MCDONALD CHAPEL, AL (WBRC) - Nearly two and a half years after the April 27 tornado nearly destroyed the only home that 51-year-old Earcy Tucker had ever known. It's now a memory of both happy times and desperate times.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Lieutenant Felicia Rucker Sumerlin own home was damaged in the tornado and she briefly lived right next to Mr. Tucker.
"I realized Mr. Tucker's situation has gotten worse, so I got back to the office and rounded up some deputies to come back out and take a look," Lt. Felicia Rucker Sumerlin
Even though Sumerlin knew his blue tarped roof in McDonald Chapel signaled damage, it wasn't until she knocked on his door that she learned the horrors of his lifestyle post-tornado.
"When I got inside, I saw it was filled with mold and mildew and there were holes in the floor, and from the water damage, where the rain was coming in from the roof," Sumerlin said.
Tucker had received a little help from FEMA, but it didn't make a dent, given the extensive damage.
"I didn't make a big fuss about it, decided to leave it in God's hands, toughed it out. Did that for about two years," Tucker said.
Toughed it out to say the least. He had no electricity or water, he heated water and cooked on a propane tank and only had a tiny corner of a back room where he could sleep without the roof leaking.
"Mr. Tucker was the kind of man that, he worked every day, was very neat in his appearance, so nobody would have known or dreamed that he was living like this," Lt. Sumerlin said.
So Lt. Sumerlin and a lot of fellow deputies became a team. They collected money and a United Methodist Church volunteered to build Tucker a new home
After a brief stay in a hotel, Tucker will be allowed to watch his new home being built from a trailer.
All because one sheriff's deputy decided to check on a neighbor who she thought might need help.
"I wasn't discouraged at all, I wasn't bitter about it. I wasn't angry about it, I decided, I'd would just leave it in God's hands," Tucker said.