SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee continues to recover after quad-state tornadoes caused damage to 20 counties. One hard-hit area was Hendersonville, where residents say their lives flashed before their eyes. 

Many said they reached shelter with just moments to spare. 

“We were running through the room when all of it was going on and when we got in the closet, like I said it still sounded like a freight train and then it just got quiet, dead quiet,” Hendersonville resident Mike Carlson said. “And I got out and come out and just seen all the devastation. 

Carlson has lived in Hendersonville for more than 30 years with his wife Thelma. He said the damage was unlike anything he’s ever seen.  

“Just scary. This was the first time I’ve been through any damage like this myself, but I feel for the people, especially Mayfield, Kentucky. Tore my heart up reading about that earlier that night and went to bed and like I said, didn’t know [we] were going to be part of it, too. So it doesn’t matter where you’re at, it can get you anywhere,” Carlson said.  

Cory Fountain also lives in Hendersonville and has for more than two decades. He spent his day driving around helping collect scrap metal.  

“Oh my God; it’s horrible down here. I mean I’ve seen trees literally sticking out of houses. I’ve seen metal poles…went through the roof all the way down to the basement of their house,” Fountain said.  

He now worries about those in his community trying to get through the holidays with Christmas just two weeks away.  

“Oh, it sucks. It really does, bad,” Fountain said. “Some people are without homes right now. Like there’s a house down the road here that got literally their roof completely torn off their house. Where are they going to go?” 

Thankfully, no one lost their life in Hendersonville, but that’s not the case everywhere. 

“A very heartbreaking and difficult day for the state of Tennessee,” Governor Bill Lee explained in a news conference

So far, four people have been reported dead along with one missing in Tennessee.  

“We’re reminded that in just a moment, lives are lost, livelihoods are lost and lives are changed forever,” Lee said.  

For thousands of others across the state, the storms brought them face to face with the meaning of life and death and what truly matters.   

“Thank God we’re alive. That was the whole truth,” Carlson said. “My granddaughter was safe, my wife was safe and I was safe. That’s all that really mattered.”