YADKIN COUNTY, N.C. - For the Courtney community, the EF-2 tornado that hit in May still brings back painful memories. The twister touched down for a matter of minutes - tearing down trees - damaging homes - and destroying the Courtney Elementary School gym.
Several months later, the school is back open, the roof is repaired - and the damaged gym is gone. But from the pieces of the gym, a Triad Boy Scout decided to turned the destruction into something positive.
All that stands between Jacob Huffman and becoming an Eagle Scout - the highest rank you can get as a boy scout – was a project. When the tornado hit, he was pondering what he would do, and suddenly realized this was the best way he could give back.
Though it happened seven months back, the memories are still very real.
“We are all jumpy still. Any kind of storm, wind picks up, it affects all of us a little bit,” said Denise Holt, a Yadkin County Cub Scout leader.
The winds brought down the decades old Courtney Elementary Gym. But from the rubble, Huffman came up with a plan.
“I just thought that this would be a good way to kind of preserve some of the history of the school. And, reuse that material,” he said, “It's actually from the roof where it flew off during the tornado.”
He and fellow boy scouts dropped off three picnic tables built from pieces of the old gym at the school Tuesday. And those tables brought more joy than you might think.
“Yeah, there's a little bit left of it out there,” said Holt about the gym, “But under that roof that those picnic tables were made out of, a lot of plans were made for the future, a lot of heartbreak, I've seen a lot of tears… I've seen a lot of joy under those beams that he's turned into picnic tables.”
As plans for a new gym take shape – the reclaimed wood serves as a reminder that this community can handle anything.
“Tornadoes through Yadkin County are not something that happens that often,” said Denny Key, the director of operations for the school system, “But when they do, it's funny because one of the benefits of living somewhere like this, is that people come out of the woodwork literally to help each other.”
Key says the school system says a new gymnasium could open by the end of this year - in time for basketball in the fall.
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