First responders deal with experiences of the deadly tornado aftermath

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 21:33:32-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As the help continues to pour into Putnam County following last week's deadly tornado, first responders have time to contemplate the aftermath.

The EF-4 tornado killed 18 people and injured dozens more. Emergency personnel who were the first on scene are being offered counseling services following the storm.

“[It's] devastating. Very hard at times," said Cookeville Fire Chief Daryl Blair. "Especially what the men and women, what they’ve dealt with. This is not a routine thing that we do. Getting on the scene and trying to get everybody. It was chaotic at first because I don’t think nobody really knew how wide of an area that was damaged once we finally got in.”

Victims of the tornado were thrown from their homes, neighbors report some were found among the rubble by first responders hours later.

Blair said anyone who needs to talk about their experiences is being offered that aid.

“Some people handle it different. But we want to be sure, not just with emergency service but with the other people that has been on the ground since the minute it happened, that we get it to them,” he said.

Volunteers are still turning out en masse to the disaster area.

People are asked to log their hours so FEMA can know what type of a response was had to the storm. A volunteer coordinator at Putnam County Community Center said those hours will turn into federal aid dollars for rebuilding the area.

"Those come right back to the community as those resources become depleted as a response to our neighbors and for them to be ready [for when] the next time something happens," said Debbie Baker.

Donations of clothes, food and cleaning supplies are all being received at the community center. However, their real needs are not always obvious. Monday, the center reported needing bed sheets of all sizes as most people's were ruined by glass in the storm.

If there's any doubt what is needed by volunteers, the people working at the community center can give advice.

Any monetary donation is asked to go to the Bank of Putnam County.