Amherst County home catches fire as family is volunteering to help tornado victims

AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)-- The McPhatter family woke up Wednesday with one mission: to help their community recover from the tornado.

“Just because if we were in that situation, we would want someone else to help us,” said Claire McPhatter. “So it kind of felt good to help them.”

Their home was left unscathed Sunday night, just 10 minutes away from Nottaway Drive.

“I was like thank god nothing ever happened to mine,” said Eleanor McPhatter.

But then, their home became an emergency scene.

“It was crazy. I didn't know what happened,” said Lucas McPhatter.

When the tornado hit, the family was in the middle of making dinner. The power went out and the attention shifted to their neighbors. Three days later, when they were handing out lunches, the power came back on. The stove was never turned off and eventually caught fire.

“It was just smoke everywhere. And I didn't know what to think. I just sat there and I was like, please please still be here- just hoping that my house- that it wasn't bad,” said Eleanor.

The home won't be livable for a long time, but work can be done. It is salvageable.

Amherst County Sheriff’s deputies say people working on the telephone lines saw the smoke and called 911 after 1:00 p.m. According to deputies the kitchen is destroyed, but if it weren’t for the early phone call the house would be gone.

The scene outside the home was similar to scenes around Elon: the community coming together to help.

“Crazy that we were the ones helping and now people are the ones helping us,” said Emma McPhatter.

As they sifted through belongings, they were thankful.

“First of all, we're alive and I know it's all going to be fine,” said Lucas McPhatter.

“But I still feel like I'm still lucky because my house is still here and other people's isn't,” said Eleanor McPhatter.

Maybe it's an Elon thing, but for a community that's seen destruction- the responses have been similar.

“We're going to fix our house up and then we're going to have a good life,” said Lucas.