PLEASANT HILL, Tenn. — Just steps away from leftover debris, Pastor John Fairless gathered the Pleasant Hill community.
"We're going to express our thanks and our gratitude, probably shed a tear or two," he said. "Tears of relief. Tears of joy. We're reminded of what the loss could have been here."
On Thursday afternoon, around 3:15 p.m., the National Weather Service said an EF-0 tornado touched down in the Pleasant Hill Community. Dozens of children were on school buses getting ready to go home.
Many others were nearby too.
"This tornado landed in the middle of a church with a glass side, an assisted living facility, a school across the street, a nursing home down the street, a memory care place and a wellness center," Pleasant Hill Mayor Lisa Patrick said. "No one was seriously injured or killed. We were truly blessed. It was a miracle."
Debbie Spearman and Trena Wyatt were in their office when they saw the tornado coming through.
"I saw a roof go swirling around in the funnel, and I screamed, 'Tornado,'" Spearman recalled. "It went back up in the sky. God pulled it back up in the sky."
On Sunday, Mayor Patrick recognized the numerous agencies that helped ensure everyone was safe and begin the cleanup process.
Those included the Cumberland County Sherriff's Department, fire department, EMS, EMA, Pleasant Hill educators and administrators, the town maintenance crew, the Uplands maintenance crew and Volunteer Electric Cooperative.
"We got a lot of response from so many people that helped us," she said. "They cleared everything out of this whole area, so we are so truly thankful to everyone."
The remaining repairs will take some time, but it's something the community is committed to.
"This Community House is going to be rebuilt," Pastor Fairless said. "It is for the community. And I want you all to know how much our plan and emphasis and our hearts are in that."