MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — On March 3, 2020, tornados left a devastating mark on Middle Tennessee when 25 people lost their lives.
Among those found dead were Jim and Donna Eaton. On Thursday, their grandson Jacob sat down for his first on-camera interview, looking back at that day.
“[I] got down to the house, well where the house was supposed to be, and [it] took my breathe away for about 2-3 seconds when I looked and saw that their house was completely level,” remembered Jacob Hardy-Moore. “There wasn’t anything standing.”
Hardy-Moore traveled from his home in Lebanon after hearing the tornado warning sirens go off. He was able to get in contact with his mother, who had asked him if he spoke to his grandparents in Mt. Juliet. Hardy-Moore vividly remembered the sounds and smell traveling through the city. He described the thick air, that smelled like gas, from where a nearby gas station had been torn apart.
Finally, he reached where his grandparent’s home should have been, located at the bottom of a hill on Catalpa Drive. After seeing the chaos and destruction, he remembered calling his mother, as she waited for news alongside Hardy-Moore’s wife.
“About the only thing I could tell her was that it wasn’t looking good. It’s not something you want to ever have to tell your mom, that her parent’s house… hey it’s not there, it’s not good. I’ll just, I’ll forever remember the cries of my mom,” said Hardy-Moore.
Crews on the ground urged Hardy-Moore to move to safe ground, after trying to search through what was left of his grandparent’s home, yelling out their names. It wouldn’t be until daylight broke when crews came over to the home to search.
“It was probably 30 minutes maybe into the search of the house before we had gotten the news that they had been located,” remembered Hardy-Moore. “They kind of told us, it seems like they were in their sleep when they went, so we found a little bit of peace in that.”
Jim and Donna were found laying in their bed together.
On Thursday, the City of Mt. Juliet held a wreath ceremony to honor the three lives lost in the city. Chief of Police James Hambrick laid a wreath at the memorial display near West Wilson Middle. Hardy-Moore told News 2 it is a reminder of how strong Mt. Juliet really is.
The couple had been married for over 50 years. As he thought back to the destruction of that day, Hardy-Moore is also reminded of the good times. He remembered going to baseball games as a young boy, and always enjoying cotton candy. While his grandfather stuck to a strict diet, his grandmother would often take a bite. He said if there is one thing that carries him though, is the strong faith in God that got him and his family through a tough time.
“One of the things that we found in the bathroom was a sign that read, don’t tell God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is, and that’s just how they lived,” said Hardy-Moore.