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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Mike "Boogie" Gilbert poses in a common area outside of his motel room on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 in Dalton, Ga. Gilbert was displaced after an EF3 tornado tore through Murray County on Easter.

Two months after Mike "Boogie" Gilbert lost his teeth in the storm, the community he's known all his life came together to get him a new set.

"I'm blessed in a lot of ways," he said.

Gilbert was one of hundreds of people in Murray County affected by the EF3 tornado that swept through Northwest Georgia and parts of Chattanooga on Easter Sunday.

When the tornado hit, Gilbert and his wife Sabrina were living in an apartment on Highway 286.

The tornado that hit Murray County left eight dead, and dozens of families were displaced from their homes. Churches, community organizations and groups of volunteers joined to help out the hundreds of people who were affected.

The American Red Cross helped by setting up more than 50 people with rooms at the Super 8 motel in Chatsworth, Georgia, free of charge. The nonprofit also provided medical supplies, three hot meals a day and other necessary items for guests.

Gilbert was able to save some clothes, but not much else. One thing he lost in the storm was his dentures.

He stayed at the Chatsworth motel for a few weeks and later moved to a motel in Dalton with the help of the Salvation Army.

Patricia Thompson, business manager with the Salvation Army in Murray County, said Gilbert has been one of a handful of people who are receiving long-term care through the organization.

"In a disaster we typically take care of basic needs and he needed a little bit more help," Thompson said. "He makes it easy because he's one of our most gracious and humble guests. He's so thankful."

Several people reached out to the Salvation Army to help Gilbert after he spoke to the Times Free Press in April. A local dental office that asked to remain anonymous reached out and set Gilbert up with a free new set of dentures.

'I've had them for about two weeks now," Gilbert said Tuesday. "I've had several people reach out to help. Churches, sponsors, different organizations. I've really appreciated it."

Having a place to stay and knowing people are looking out for him has felt like "a ton of bricks were lifted off my shoulders."

In the months after the tornado, the Salvation Army helped Gilbert set up doctor appointments for him to get medications, made contact with a local disability attorney and paid for a post office box at the local post office.

Gilbert said he's been having a bit of cabin fever in his motel room the last few weeks. He and Thompson are working now to find an RV or a camper so he can stay on a family member's property back in Murray County as a more permanent solution.

"The community has been very supportive for all the work we've done," Thompson said.

To help victims of the storms, call the Murray County Salvation Army office at 706-278-3966.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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