On April 27, Darrell Goodwin emerged from his home’s basement, rattled but mostly unscathed. His own home was badly damaged but still standing.
Then he opened his front door.
“The first thing when I opened that door, the kids and women were screaming,” Goodwin said.
So in the dark and rain, Goodwin found a flashlight, joined his neighbors and started searching the Willbrook subdivision for the source of those cries.
“We saw some other people, and we started going house to house and checked our half of the neighborhood,” Goodwin said.
Along with neighbors Jesse Parker and Allen Goldston, he checked on every house and pulled several neighbors to safety.
One woman, whose name Goodwin still doesn’t know, was trapped in her basement, buried in the rubble of what was once her home. She’s still in Erlanger hospital, Goodwin said.
“The tornado picked up her house and brought it about 20 feet toward the road,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin and his crew weren’t the only ones searching, but he said he felt obligated to look for his neighbors, who include parents, young children and older folks.
Last week, the Goodwins found a temporary apartment as their home sits with serious roof and water damage. They feel lucky. Some of their neighbors were sleeping in tents just after the storm, and many homes were flattened into piles of splintered lumber.
“A contractor has already said the house is going to have to be gutted; we aren’t going to be able to save anything,” Goodwin said. “In this whole area, I counted just two or three that didn’t have some sort of damage, but we’re still very lucky.”
Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...