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Ooltewah High JROTC, baseball team help tornado victims

Ooltewah High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Sgt. Jessica Myers lives on Ooltewah-Georgetown Road, one of the areas hit hard by the EF3 tornado that touched down March 2.

Her JROTC Raiders Team rallied around her to fan out to assist her neighbors with tornado recovery March 3. The Raiders said they would like to continue to help tornado victims and invite people to call Ooltewah High School to request assistance.

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The Ooltewah High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Raiders Team is assisting local tornado survivors in Ooltewah with cleanup work. Members pictured back from left are Cadet Capt. Dain Thomas, Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Brandon Montgomery, Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Donovan Thomas, Cadet Sgt. Jessica Myers, Cadet Capt. Jonah Stiltner, Cadet 1st Sgt. Kyle Bates, Cadet 1st Sgt. Patrick Henry and Cadet Staff Sgt. Jordan Boots. Kneeling in front is Cadet 2nd Lt. Joshua Fredericks.

“My house and one other were the only ones without damage in that area,” said Myers. “I called on the Raiders because a lot of debris was on the ground. My dad’s truck was completely totaled because a roof fell on it and trees fell and crushed our fence, but overall we were lucky in comparison to our neighbors.”

She said OHS was on lock-down the day of the tornado, which hit around lunchtime in Ooltewah.

“We weren’t exactly sure where the tornado hit,” said Myers. “When I saw the debris on my road, I got out of my car and ran home to see what the damage was.”

Fellow JROTC Cadet 1st Lt. LaDarius Thomas said he was equally lucky when the tornado skipped over his subdivision on Hunter Road. He took another JROTC team to clean up debris on Sunday, March 3 along Wolftever Trail, using a borrowed chain saw to cut up trees and moving timber and debris at Morgan Estates.

“After the tornado hit, I wanted to help out,” said Thomas. “We go door to door asking if people need help. We go out to help every day that we can. We will get as many people as we can to go help.”

He said JROTC cadets learn about service in school and now they have a local opportunity to put that practice into action.

OHS JROTC Cadet Maj. Dana Council is taking a third team to Savannah Drive on weekends to help with cleanup. Her youth group at Ooltewah United Methodist Church has already gone out with her, helping clean up four houses along Savannah Drive.

“We will continue going out after school to help the best we can,” said Council. “The Ooltewah High School Leadership Class is collecting items for tornado survivors. A lot of help is needed out there.”

Ooltewah High School varsity baseball team is also working to help tornado survivors.

Sophomore outfielder and pitcher Logan Fugate said the tornado tore apart his grandparents’ home along Ooltewah-Georgetown Road. He said his varsity baseball teammates showed up to help him clean up his grandparents’ property Saturday, March 3.

“The whole baseball team showed up with four-wheelers and chain saws,” he said. “I asked two people to come and they all ended up coming. I was happy to see them and so were my parents. We had 40 to 50 people helping that day. The American Red Cross brought food and water.”

Fugate said his grandparents’ house will be torn down. The tornado ripped the home’s roof off and tore through the garage, shed and his grandfather’s shop. Luckily, he said, his grandparents were at a doctor’s appointment when the tornado hit their home.

“They were real emotional about everyone coming out to help,” said Fugate. “I plan to continue helping them every weekend.”

His house was unharmed and his grandparents will stay with him for now.

“Even if you don’t know any of those affected by the tornado, please help them,” said Fugate, urging community members to step up to help tornado victims. “It looks like a war zone. You would not think anything like that [tornado] would happen around here, until it does.”

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