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Home of 35 years is gone

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By Gayle Deaton

Wiping her tears with a tissue, Lillie Carriss looked around what had been her and husband B.F.'s house for the past 35 years.

The storm that moved through Shelby County late Tuesday night tore the roof from the top of their house and demolished their barn.

The outside sky is now visible where the ceilings once were in both the bathroom and foyer that leads to the basement.

Water was still trapped inside the ceilings in other rooms and ready to burst through Wednesday morning. Wet piles of insulation from the roof lay in piles on the bathroom floor and were strewn across the front yard.

But beyond the damage and mess, the couple worried about not having home owners insurance. That means they must now raise thousands of dollars for repairs before they can think of moving back into their family home located off Kings Highway in Waddy.

Lillie Carriss, 68, said she had let the policy lapse when her husband was ill.

"It's so hard to look around knowing what it used to be," she said. "We've lived here for 35 years."

B.F. Carriss, 72, is a retired tobacco and dairy farmer and the couple raised five children together.

Mary Ann Burgin, the couple's oldest daughter, said she had called them earlier to tell them to watch the news and prepare to go to the basement if necessary.

Together, they explain what happened.

"We had the news on and they said Shelby County would have severe thunderstorms," Lillie said, "and I thought it must not be going to be that bad."

B.F.said he was keeping a watch out the side door while Lillie, who had a kidney stone operation scheduled for the next morning, monitored the news.

"I saw it hit the barn and I grabbed her and we went down to the basement," B.F. said. "When we were down there, a couple of windows in the basement blew out and she said it's time to go back upstairs."

"At that time, I didn't know the roof had been blown off," she said.

A little after 1 a.m., family and friends started showing up to help clear the family's furniture and belongings out of the wet, windblown house. Most of it is stored in trailers and Burgin's garage.

Burgin said her parents will stay with her at her home until the family figures out what type of arrangements can be made.

"I know everything happens for a reason," Burgin said. "I know God allowed this, and I don't have any doubt that he's going to fix it better than it was."

Want to help?

Donations to help provide disaster relief for families in the county can be made to the Shelby County Red Cross, 1201 Mt. Eden Road, Shelbyville, 40065.