Breaking News
More () »

Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

'Our county and community truly shined in this bad time' | Putnam County remembers victims of deadly tornado on one year anniversary

Putnam County was hit hardest in Middle Tennessee with an EF-4 tornado. 19 people died, five of them were children.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn. — Wednesday night families of Middle Tennessee tornado victims in Putnam County came together to remember those they lost in the storm.

March 3, 2021 marked one year since twisters ripped across that area.

Putnam County was hit hardest with an EF-4 tornado. 19 people died, five of them were children.

A year later, the community is still grieving and healing as people reflect.

There's a lot of emotion like pain from remembering what happened, but brought much needed closure for so many. 

"The true test of a community is not how it handles the good times, it's how it handles the bad," said Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter. 

March 3, 2020 marks a day the community will never forget. "This was a bad time. Our community lost lives. It lost homes," said Porter. 

Putnam County was hurting, but it's clear a year later the community began to heal. 

"But our county and community truly shined in this bad time. It passed that test and reminded us what an amazing place we live in," he said. 

Phyllis Cole lost her daughter, Amanda, that early morning. 

Amanda and six-year-old Dawson Curtis died together as she protected him, according to Cole.  

"She lived with the Curtis' and was their live-in nanny," she said. "I have a strong faith and know she's in a better place."

Cole said the service Wednesday night provided peace.

"To me it was a sense of closure. It felt like the last first. I had made it through all the others and felt if I can make it through this one then the healing process can start."

She said the tragedy came with a silver lining. 

"I have never seen a community come together like this one has," said Cole. "They should dwell on how the community and the county took care of each other and are still taking care of each other."

The resilience and strength of the Putnam County community has shined this past year and will keep shining as they take care of each other.

"It reminded us why we live in such a great community," said Porter. 

The families say they feel bonded to each other and will forever hold that bond.

The memorial service marked the end of a day full of events remembering the 19 victims who died in Putnam County.