CBS News’s lead national correspondent shared stories Thursday from his time in Putnam County, Tennessee, after an EF-4 tornado devastated the area Tuesday.
David Begnaud told WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara that he would never forget the resident who said, “When I came out of my house, the first and only thing I heard were people screaming for help everywhere.”
However, Begnaud explained that there was something unique about how the Tennesseans reacted to the storms that ripped through the area that morning.
There was a resilience that seemed to bond them together which was inspiring to me. Every single person that I spoke to mentioned God. I will never forget Eric Groomer, who was the other Eric’s neighbor, who said ‘How are we here? How do you explain this? How do you explain that every single piece of my home is gone, and I’m still here? And the only thing that is sitting on the slab of my home is the carpet that we sat on in the closet that is no longer there?’ Nearly every person mentioned God.
Thursday on Twitter, the correspondent shared the story of a family of three who died during the storm that leveled their home:
"He just turned two last week."
The search for survivors continues in Tennessee after tornadoes left at least 24 people dead.
@DavidBegnaud shares the story of an entire family in hard hit Putnam County that was killed in the storm's path. https://t.co/zDrvxtLiTD pic.twitter.com/vu3i6yoORS
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 5, 2020
Wednesday, Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter released a list of the 18 residents who were also tragically killed that morning, five of whom were children.
“Officials said 400 homes were damaged, 31 commercial structures were damaged and nearly 100 residences were totally destroyed,” according to WVLT.
Despite the devastating loss, Begnaud noted that there were moments of happiness as residents began cleaning up the debris left behind by the tornado.
“It was the people who were walking away from their homes with the Bible that was untouched, the photo that was unscathed, their favorite piece of clothing that they found. That’s what I remember,” he said.
“The people who were walking away with just one little document in their hand as if it was something precious and it ultimately was to them. Those were little moments of joy,” Begnaud concluded.