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‘Hattie loves to be held.’ Putnam County father pens tribute to daughter killed in tornado

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Posted at 12:33 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 13:33:14-04

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The father of 4-year-old Hattie Collins has written a heartbreaking account of the night an EF-4 tornado hit his family’s home.

Hattie Collins was among 18 killed in Putnam County when the tornado ripped through their neighborhood last week. Five of those killed were children.

Hattie’s father, Matt, recalled that night in a Facebook post that has now been shared more than 30,000 times.

“Hattie loves to be held. Ever since she was born, Hattie has loved being held. In 4.5 years, she has slept with Macy and I nearly every single night — close. She wants to feel you,” he wrote.

Collins detailed how their phones alerted them of the tornado – saying he and his wife, Macy, grabbed their children and “hit the floor” just as the storm hit.

“Everything was collapsing and going up around us. I was yelling as loud as I could. I don’t remember what I said or even if what I said were words at all, but my yells were pleads for my girls to hang on. The four of us were relocated by the storm to somewhere around our front porch, we think. We were in the dirt, in the crawl space, but together.”

Collins said both he and his wife blacked out and woke up across the street. He thanked his neighbors and church members for helping them that night, adding that one of his neighbors took hold of Hattie, even though she had already passed away.

“Hattie loves to be held. My girls never touched the ground,” he wrote.

Read his full account below:

Another member of Collegeside Church of Christ, Pat Lane, also died during the tornado. To help the church in relief efforts, you can donate on their website.