published Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Devastated, but not defeated

The recent tornadoes and other storms did so much damage across such a huge expanse of the South that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to take it all in.

Hamilton County and surrounding counties in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia all suffered heavy human and property losses.

But we were newly taken aback by a statistic furnished by authorities in Catoosa County, Ga.: An estimated half of all the businesses in nearby Ringgold were heavily damaged by the storms.

Restaurants, gas stations, computer stores and other facilities were among the many types of businesses that were hit.

Some buildings were leveled. What remains of many others likely will have to be torn down before rebuilding can begin.

That obviously presents painful questions to the owners and employees of the businesses. Will all the buildings be rebuilt? If so, will the rebuilding be at the same location or somewhere else?

Compounding the difficulty of those decisions is the fact that they must be made while Ringgold — like many other communities that were struck by the tornadoes — is still mourning multiple deaths.

But in the midst of the tragedy, a plucky spirit is also in evidence.

“When we do rebuild, we’re going to build it back bigger and better,” Maria Green-Rogers, the owner of a heavily damaged Ringgold restaurant, told the Times Free Press. “We’ve got to get our town back.”

We hope that can-do attitude will prevail throughout the region.

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