Last week we reported on the EF-4 tornado that tore through parts of Tennessee, leveling buildings, and killing at least two dozen people. With members of the affected communities now working to pick up the pieces, stories on all parts of the spectrum are emerging from the rubble, including some directly affected members of the CrossFit community.
Lauren Neal was in her Charlton Square home in Cookeville, Tennessee when she got the notification on her phone, warning her about the tornado. Neal, a member of CrossFit Mayhem’s CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup-winning team in 2015, immediately rushed to get her teenage daughter.
“My daughter was in her room and she has hearing problems and wasn’t wearing her hearing aide,” Neal told local reporters, “She sat up and next thing you know I was looking at her face and the whole front of the house was gone, and a door came and hit me, and I was holding on the door while getting hit with everything.”
In an instant, a scene from a horror movie played out in front of her. The tornado ripping her house to shreds, Neal’s daughter was carried away by the storm, as Neal was pelted and battered by the destroyed remnants of her home of 14 years.
- Neal eventually landed on top of what was previously her roof. She ended up atop the rubble of her home with her dog Jack in her lap.
Miraculously, Neal’s daughter was thrown by the storm into her next-door neighbor’s pool, covered by the debris from her home, and she survived with only minor injuries.
- Neal and her neighbors, who barricaded themselves in their laundry room, also survived the ordeal with only minor bumps and bruises, but unfortunately her dog Jack later passed away.
- Just a day later Neal returned to where her home once stood to start salvaging keepsakes and pieces of what’s left. “They have found things over 100 miles away. I am so grateful to those people who pick it up and post it on FB (Facebook) so we can get it back,” Neal revealed in a recent Instagram post.
A story of survival: Despite the destruction, Neal and her family’s story is ultimately one of survival, with more stories of how others made it through popping up by the day. As they now start to rebuild, it’s clear by the outpouring of support that they’re not alone.
- Neal: “The community is amazing because I’ve never had to deal with something like this. There’s no words other than ‘thank you’ but that’s not enough.”
How you can help: Putnam County has started a relief fund, and CrossFit Mayhem has started a Mayhem for Middle Tennessee charity event to help raise money for those affected. You can find the appropriate links below.
- Official tornado relief fund
- Shirts and Stickers, 100% of proceeds will be donated.
- Mayhem for Middle Tennessee Fundraiser
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