Kingston Springs continues to rebuild one year after tornado

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 9:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2022 at 7:20 AM CST
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KINGSTON SPRINGS, Tenn. (WSMV) – A home without a roof, boarded up windows, a dumpster full of debris and a cleared path of downed trees are all reminders of what happened in Kingston Springs just one year ago.

An EF-2 tornado ripped through in the middle of the night, with maximum winds of up to 125 miles per hour, spreading 400 yards wide.

“If my husband hadn’t screamed when he did, I’d be dead,” survivor Wanda Yates said. “I went back upstairs. There were two by fours with nails and everything right where I was sleeping.”

Yates’ home once stood on Highway 70. She says it was demolished last week. Now, it’s an empty lot, and she still plans to rebuild.

“I’m just going to have to see the cost because insurance paid but there was a gap between what it paid and what it’s going to cost to rebuild with the price of everything being so expensive,” Yates said, adding it’s been a slow process to look into construction.

Between insurance money and FEMA, she says it’s not enough.

“FEMA gave me $197, total. I have no idea what it’s for, where that amount came from,” she said. “Just one day it came in my back account, $197. I guess I get penalized because I had insurance, but they didn’t realize I was underinsured.”

Yates was planning to retire, but after the tornado, her plans for the future have been put at a standstill.

“Our rental house has been good and I’m comfortable,” she said. “I just miss my house.”

Groups like The Ark Community Resource and Assistance Center in Pegram and The Land in Kingston Springs have been big helps to Yates. What she wants most is to once again be living next to her mother, who turns 97 next week.

“Blake Shelton has a song out that says, ‘I’m tired of the load, and I want to go home,’” she said. “That tears me up every time I hear it. But we’re going to rebuild on that land hopefully and be close to my mom.”

FEMA has not provided an answer as to why Yates only received $197.

194 FEMA applicants from last year’s storm were approved to receive assistance. FEMA claims more than $1.2 million went to individuals and household assistance.