PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn., (WKRN) — Sunday marked two months since a massive tornado struck Putnam County, killing 19 people and leaving buildings crumbled.
The mayors of Cookeville and Putnam County took a helicopter tour recently showing how the images have changed since March 3rd.
Mayor Randy Porter said the county has seen a lot of progress since then.
They’re about 90% complete with clearing debris and should be finished this week.
“I did not think in the beginning that after two months we would be where we are today in the cleanup process,” Porter said. “The thing that I hear from everyone: “Randy we have to drive though it everyday as we go to and from work – wherever they’re traveling to and I wish we didn’t have to look at it.” So that kinda pushed me to want to get it cleaned up quicker. I try to drive through everyday at lunch and just drive through the area to see how the cleanup is going and it kinda helps me deal with it too.”
Close to $2 million dollars has been donated to the Cookeville-Putnam County Tornado Relief Fund.
The mayor said they plan on disbursing checks for tornado survivors this week.
“We still have a lot of people that are hurting, that lost everything, they lost family members. We had 19 deaths in the tornado. So the grieving process is still going on. It’s going to take time,” Porter said. “Just keep us in your prayers, in your thoughts. And if you would, donate to our tornado relief fund. That helps the survivors – 100 percent going to it.”
Like the rest of the world, Putnam County has also been hit by COVID-19 with 5 deaths and 136 positive cases, according to The State Health Department.
The mayor said the biggest challenge has been deadly with the pandemic while recovering from a deadly tornado.
“Our emergency services team, emergency responders, law enforcement, everyone has come together, and that team continues – even though you’ve got folks dealing with the virus on a day to day basis and being careful with it, that team continues to amaze me in the job that they’re doing to make sure the tornado survivors and the rebuild process, the recovery process continues,” Porter said.
Putnam County has also started a long-term recovery task force and they’re even starting to see homes being rebuilt. The mayor said they’re working to make a memorial park on a piece of property that was destroyed by the tornado.