Husband remembers rescuing wife after 2017 tornado destroyed their home

Husband remembers rescuing wife after 2017 tornado destroyed their home
Scotty Ireland rescued his wife. (Source: WALB)
Scotty Ireland rescued his wife. (Source: WALB)
The tornado trapped Tammy Ireland inside their collapsed home. (Source: WALB)
The tornado trapped Tammy Ireland inside their collapsed home. (Source: WALB)
The Irelands' new home is more than 50 percent complete. (Source: WALB)
The Irelands' new home is more than 50 percent complete. (Source: WALB)

TURNER CO., GA (WALB) - The same EF-3 tornado that ripped through Dougherty and Worth Counties on January 22, 2017, hit Turner County as well.

It damaged some homes that had already been impacted by the straight-line wind storm on January 2.

Scotty Ireland, a now-retired Turner County Sheriff's deputy, got a phone call while on duty on January 22 that changed his life forever.

"My cell phone went off and it was my sister-in-law and brother," Ireland said, but it was the call that came after he heard his brother and sister-in-law were trapped when reality sank in.

"It was just, it was bad. Just that thought," Ireland described.

"I heard them say, 'Doles and Arabi, watch out. You have 10 minutes,' and the TV went off," said Tammy Ireland, Scotty's wife.

The deputy got a call from his mother-in-law that the EF-3 tornado had not only destroyed his home, but it had also trapped his wife of nearly 10 years inside.

"I could hardly talk on the radio to tell them where I was out at. My heart nearly stopped," Scotty told WALB News 10 just days after the tornado.

His wife was on the phone with her father when the tornado hit.

"It sounded like rocks in a drum, and glass spinning around," Tammy described. "I said, 'Oh God, Daddy, here it comes.' I got in the closet and got the pillow over my head, and I could hear all the sounds of the house ripping."

After dodging downed trees and power lines as he drove to his house, Tammy's husband crawled through sheetrock and rafters to rescue her.

She got out without a scratch.

"I know that I am blessed because there's no way I should have walked out of the house," Tammy explained.

The Irelands' home was one of more than 30 in Turner County destroyed that day.

Now, one year later, what the couple went through still weighs heavy.

"I can't even ride in the car if it's storming," Tammy said. "There's daily reminders of what I went through and what others went through, but it's also a reminder that I'm still here to be able to see that."

With that reminder comes new hope for this couple.

"I want some good memories to overtake the bad memories," said Tammy.

The family's new house is more than halfway complete. They hope to move in around three months from now. The first item moved in is one of the only items left untouched by the storm.

"Our sand that we poured into the bottle when we got married was sitting in this entertainment center," Scotty said in 2017.

Now, it will sit on their new mantle as a reminder of where this couple has been, and where they'll go.

"I think it was just a sign that we were just meant to have a happily-ever-after story," explained Tammy.

Ireland said he and his wife hope to install a storm shelter close to their home in the near future.

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