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Family’s Roots Go Deep into Soil Now Strewn with Debris
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Ellen Scarborough
February 14, 2008

Mary Virginia Carmouche and her husband, Bob, survived with only a hole in the front of their house. Mary’s brother, Jack Scott, wasn’t as lucky - his single-wide mobile home was demolished by a string of tornadoes that swept through Tennessee on the night of February 5.

Amidst the debris, a Red Cross volunteer provides comfort following severe tornado outbreaks in Tennessee. (Photo credit: American Red Cross)
Amidst the debris, a Red Cross volunteer provides comfort following severe tornado outbreaks in Tennessee.
(Photo credit: American Red Cross)

Their father, family patriarch Clarence Hayne Scott and his wife of 17 years, Christine, lost not only their home but also their lives on that night of what some call “monster storms.”

On that same night, a lamb was born on the farm of the elder Scotts, giving rise to this story of death and life and of deep family roots that date back to the 1700s in this section of Trousdale County, Tennessee.

Dealing with the Aftermath

Huddled in the warmth of the family SUV, Mary nibbled at a meal supplied by the American Red Cross. It was the day after the funerals, and her feelings were raw from grief as she headed back home for the first time since the storms. The sound of chain saws filled the air as friends and neighbors helped clear debris. And yet, after all that had happened, she was at peace.

“They went to sleep, and they woke up in heaven,” she said of her parents.

Violent storms are no strangers to this part of the country. Mary grew up in Tennessee but moved away after she was married. She and her husband moved back to the homestead, which once covered 5,000 acres but now is down to about 150, in 1993 and have since witnessed six tornadoes in the area.

From the passenger side of the car, she could see the unoccupied house. Built in 1896, the same year her grandfather was born, the home was where many of her family members grew up. It stood strong, despite the total destruction of the nearby mobile home. The barn, other outbuildings and surrounding trees had all been stripped to shreds.

A few hundred yards away, Jack Scott accepted well wishes from neighbors and recounted how his wife’s phobia of storms had saved their lives. She has always been afraid of storms and insisted that they go to the relative safety of their son’s basement upon hearing the storm warnings.

After the tornado rumbled through, they tried to return home but were turned back by authorities. As a result, they lived in a state of uncertainty for several hours before being allowed to see the pile of rubble that had been their home. Uncertainty then immediately turned to shock.

Across the road, Mary's other brother, Willie Scott lives in the house where his late father was born. The roof is now a blue tarpaulin. Loss of life and property within his immediate and extended family has him close to tears.

“I could cry at any time,” he admitted, though stubbornly attempting to hold his head high.

The Scotts are a proud and resolutely self-sufficient family. They have been told of the types of disaster relief offered by the Red Cross through the generosity of donors throughout the country. Thanks to Red Cross volunteers, they know about the crisis counseling and other recovery services offered by the organization.

“We’ll make it,” they say. “Help others who need it worse than we do.”

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

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