‘The worst feeling in the world’: Lieutenant recalls 6-hour endeavor to reach residents after tornado in Tennessee

Regional News

KINGSTON SPRINGS, Tenn. (WKRN) — Cheatham County was one of the hardest hit by Tennessee’s tornado outbreak. An EF-2 tornado ripped through the area with 125 mile-per-hour winds.  

A curfew was in place overnight Sunday as roads were too dark to navigate. Highway 70 was reopened, exposing the catastrophic damage the storms left behind.  

Harpeth Baptist Church had a steeple swept off its roof during the storms.  

“The original building here is over 100 years old and you can see the original stained glass is broke out,” member Chris Christy said. 

As the sunset on the second day of recovery in Kingston Springs, the community reflected on what once was.  

“You just think of all the people throughout all the years that were a part of this facility, all the services that they’ve had here, all the good they’ve done for the community,” Christy recalled as he surveyed his church’s damage.  

Preston Parker, also a member, helped other church members living around the church clean up Sunday afternoon. He said one member had her entire house picked up and moved off of its foundation. 

“We definitely had some issues with the flood nearby here, but as far as the widespread devastation when you’re just driving down and just seeing the things, the trees down and things like that, I haven’t personally seen anything like it,” Parker said.  

 Lt. Ken Miller with the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office went to bed Thursday and wouldn’t get a chance to sleep again until Saturday. He recalled the six hours it took to reach his community while having to stop every several hundred feet with chainsaws to clear debris.  

“We want to help our citizens out, the public, and to not be able to get there, you feel helpless. And as a law enforcement officer, that’s the worst feeling in the world,” Lt. Miller said. “We’re used to being able to address any problem and take care of it.” 

For Miller, the damage is personal.  

“You look at these families and here it is right before Christmas time. And quite a few of them have lost everything that they ever owned, ever hoped to have in their life. Having to start rebuilding at this time, it’s chaos,” Miller said. 

County officials plan to meet with TEMA Monday to assess the county’s damage.  

“Unless they have a generator, they don’t have power. A lot of them are without water. When the trees got uprooted, it tore out the water mains,” Miller explained.  

For anyone wanting to help, law enforcement recommends donating to the Red Cross or checking in with local churches to see what they need.  

“Just keep us in mind, keep us in their prayers and we’ll be keeping everybody posted on what we need,” Miller said.  

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