COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Putnam County man who lives in one of the hardest-hit subdivisions in Cookeville recalled the terrifying moments when an EF-4 tornado ripped through his neighborhood.

“Nothing compares to this, and nothing prepares you for this,” said Michael Brown.

He and his family live in the Charlton Square subdivision. He said they had just gotten to their storm shelter when a EF-4 tornado barrelled through their neighborhood in 2020.

“As a matter of fact, when everything in the garage downstairs started getting blown around, I was positive we had taken a direct hit,” said Brown.

Thankfully, the Brown family survived. Once the storm passed, Brown and his teenage sons went searching for their neighbors in the rubble.

“All total, I believe we had 28,” said Brown. “Everybody we found, we just told them to come to our house. It’s at least still standing.”

Remarkably, all of the residents in Charlton Square survived, despite massive damage to their homes. The youngest survivor was about 10. Neighbors estimate the oldest was nearing 80 years old.

“Everybody was in utter disbelief — found all the flash lights we could and the little battery-powered lantern lights that we had because there was no power,” said Brown. “{We} just had people start going through our closets finding whatever clothes they could.”

Brown said some of his neighbors have moved to other parts of town, while others are still in the midst of rebuilding.

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“Some of them are still going through some tough emotional times,” said Brown. “Speaking for my wife and I, every time they call for tornadoes we get antsy. That doesn’t ever go away.”