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Putnam Co. Community Dedicates Hope Park

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Co. Community Dedicates Hope Park

The building of Hope Park will begin after Wednesday’s dedication of the park in the Highway 70 corridor.

“Without hope, we don’t have much,” Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said.

Three families, the Asantes, the Barnetts, and the Pitts, sold their land to the county for the building of the park. All three families lost their homes in the storm. The two acres of land at the corner of Henlsey Drive will be turned into a park for families and children.

Clint Pitts lost his sister Erin, brother-in-law Joshua, and nephew Sawyer in the tornado.

“We see it as a tragedy, and rightfully so, but to Erin, Josh and Sawyer, they certainly see it as a mere expediting of their heavenly reward,” Erin’s Brother Clint Pitts said. “And that’s why we as the grieving family and friends here below of all 19 victims can still have hope. So, I hope this park will serve as reminder to all of us That life is precious. Life is short.”

Tony and Donna Barnett lost everything in the storm. Tony Barnett said he could not come back to the community because of the memories. He said the memories are there everyday.

“That night… usually I am on top of storms, but we didn’t know it was even going to rain,” Barnett said. “And so, we went to bed not knowing anything. Of course, our phones went off, and we got up and Donna, my wife, asked, ‘Well, where are we gonna go?’ I said, ‘We ain’t got no where to go. Just come on back to bed. We’ll just put it in God’s hands.’ And that’s what we did, and of course, the lights went out, and then, I heard it. I heard them before, and so I rolled over and I said, ‘You hang on.’ And then of course, the house just exploded right there, and we was literally spinning in it. It took the bed out from under us, floor joist and everything.”

Barnett said he deals with guilt daily, wondering why he and his wife survived. He also thanked the responders and volunteers who did things big and small to help in the aftermath.

Josesph and Joyce Asante said the storm reminded him that life is precious and life is short. Josesph Asante said he understood the love of the community as neighbors carried his wife from the rubble.


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