Tornado outbreak, pandemic bring Lebanon neighbors together to form lasting friendship

Nashville Tornado

WILSON COUNTY Tenn. (WKRN) — During the early morning hours of March 3rd, Marilyn & Bill Wilmert were in their home in Lebanon bracing for the EF-3 Tornado as it came roaring down their road. 

Marilyn said, “It was the scariest thing I have ever been through. I didn’t think we were going to make it. We no more hit the closet and you could hear everything hitting the house, and I hear glass breaking; it was scary.” 

Their neighbors, Dale & Jamie Pickens, were two houses down. They also took a hit from the tornado.

Jaime stated, “We came out of the bedroom of course, we had to put shoes on, and walked into here, and there was glass the front door had been blown in, and there was glass all the way to the middle of this room, and it’s just like ‘where did that come from?’ and then we realize all the front room had been blown in.” 

Both of their homes had been heavily damaged by the tornado, but what is worse, Bill & Marilyn were physically trapped in their home. Luckily, Dale, a retired fire captain, helped get them to safety.   

Bill, who was trapped later said, “Thank God, we have good neighbors – just beautiful neighbors – because we couldn’t get out of the house.” 

They all ended up in the same hotel while their homes were being repaired.  At the same time, COVID-19 began and so there was nowhere else for them to go. The four of them started playing cards in the evening to keep themselves entertained. That’s how their true friendship blossomed. 

Marilyn said, “It brought us together as best friends. I don’t think I would have made it through as good as I did, if we didn’t have them.”

Months later, they are now back in their newly remodeled homes and consider each other best friends still. Yes, they also play cards every Tuesday. 


See how hope has overcome heartbreak across the area. News 2 brings you special reports Tennessee Stronger: A Year of Recovery all day Wednesday in every newscast and on WKRN.com.

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