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Rebuilding From Disaster: Cookeville, TN Tornado

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 4:58 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:57 PM EST
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(WHSV) - March 2nd, 2020, several supercells produced deadly tornadoes in Tennessee. The powerful storms passed through the state in the middle of the night.

In a matter of hours, 10 tornadoes touched down across the state between 11 pm and 2:30 am. One was a powerful long-track tornado that was on the ground for 60 miles. That tornado went through the Nashville Metro Area.

The strongest tornado of the night directly hit Cookeville, Tennessee. The tornado was rated as an EF-4 with winds of 175 mph. This tornado claimed 19 lives.

One resident had a bad feeling in his stomach the night of the tornado and decided to stay somewhere else. He came back the next morning and said “everything, lost everything.”

In the wake of the tornado, destruction was everywhere but the tight-knit community has been working together to rebuild.

Residents were left trying to soak in what happened as family members were not found or lost their life.

Some families lost several members.

“Josh and Aaron were the parents to my parents’ only grandson and just to think that they are all gone is just unbelievable,” another resident said.

One volunteer helping out heard things like “I know his house is gone but I don’t know where he’s at.” Despite not being impacted himself, the volunteer had to fight emotions hearing things on the radio of people just trying to find others in the wake of devastation.

While the community lost homes, neighbors, friends and family they did not lose their faith. The entire community came together for days following the disaster to move forward despite the country beginning the pandemic.

One year later, the spirits have not changed. The middle Tennessee community learned to love their neighbors at the most critical of times.

For the first time on the one year anniversary of the tornado, a large gathering occurred at one of the local churches in Cookeville.

“We feel proud of our community and just how much we cherish each other and I think there’s just a shift of we just want to take care of each other,” another Cookeville resident said.

Staying united, many learned from the terrible tornado that family is not just blood, but a community.

“We don’t move on, but we do move forward. We don’t move on from those that we lost because they will forever be a part of us,” a pastor of one of Cookeville’s churches said.

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