73ºF

17-year-old tornado survivor paints powerful message on dilapidated home

Putnam County sees the worst of deadly tornadoes

COOKEVILLE, TN - In Putnam County, the clean up slows as the sun goes down. The number of missing has gone down. The number of volunteers has increased. There is plenty of work to do in a county that was devastated by the tornadoes.

An EF-3 twister obliterated parts of Cookeville. It's there where KPRC2's Rose-Ann Aragon met 17-year-old Jazlinn Cojom while she was painting a small mural on her bedroom wall. The wall was exposed. The roof of this teen's room was gone. She was standing in the place she almost died.

"I woke up with the wall collapsed on top of me," Cojom said.

Her father, the homeowner, ripped through debris, desperately, to find her. When she got up, Cojom said she saw her neighborhood flattened.

"When I finally got out, I witnessed all of the destruction, and I could hear the people's calls for help from across the neighborhood," Jazlinn said.

Her neighborhood resembled a war zone. A day later, an army of volunteers came their way. By noon, there were people all over her neighborhood, cleaning up debris, handing out food and snacks and offering comfort to those affected.

"We get the name 'Volunteer State' for a reason, and you can see it here today," Brandon Rice, a volunteer, said.

Jazlinn was so touched by the efforts of the volunteer, she painted a small mural of a tree with the words, "We are stronger together" next to it--a powerful message in a city riddled with crumbling homes.

“Since I’ve always wanted to paint on the walls, I thought I could draw something reflecting the community efforts,” Jazlinn said “Throughout this whole devastation, a tree kind of symbolizes growth. So that’s what we’re all trying to do--growth and prosperity.”