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Nashville tornado survivor shares harrowing story of fear, survival

Putnam County takes brunt of mother nature’s wrath

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Putnam County took the brunt of the devastating weather event that tore through middle Tennessee. As of Wednesday afternoon, 24 people died in the state and at least 18 of them died in Putnam County. KPRC 2′s Rose-Ann Aragon traveled to Cookeville in Putnam County, about 85 miles east of Nashville where residents were hard at work with clean up and recovery efforts.

Sounds of work fill what was once a neighborhood. Longtime residents now barely recognize the lives they had build in homes that now resemble war zones.

“I’m very blessed because people right down the street were not as fortunate as us,” said homeowner Tamara Williams.

Survivor’s guilt is real here. Williams’ home was flattened and yet she was one of the lucky ones. Her family was the only ones left standing.

“We were in the bathroom downstairs where those red and blue pipes...are,” Williams said in tears.

She pointed to what is now a flat foundation of her home.

When the tornado hit, she and her family had little time.

"We got downstairs and you could see them already moving in," Williams said.

The family had to leave their dogs and she, her husband and their three children huddled in a small bathroom as the unrelenting winds took everything familiar from them.

“We were praying... All my kids we were praying out loud,” Williams said.

By the end, they were all they had left. They survived and their dogs too.

"I'm just extremely grateful because I couldn't live without any one of my babies," Williams said.

Now she said with the help of volunteers, they plan to rebuild.