COOKEVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It has been nearly five months since Cookeville neighborhoods were devastated by the March tornadoes.

News4 returned to Putnam County to provide an update on some of the people we met at that time.

The story of Dave and Diane Roland starts in Cookeville. 

"Had our first date October 2, 1982," said Dave. "We both knew. We were actually engaged a week later."

What do they tell people about getting engaged so fast?

"I tell them she asked me to marry her, and I said yes!" said Dave.

"They think we're crazy!" said Diane.

Now, after 38 years, they’re still together and still in Cookeville.

One of their proudest accomplishments is creating the Next Step For Life transitional housing program. They have both a men's and women's home, helping people recover from things like drug and alcohol addictions, depression and anxiety.

"We know what can happen with people, and there's hope for everybody," said Diane.

The early hours of a morning in March threatened what they've made.

After an alert, everyone in the women's house ran into a closet and huddled in the dark. The women weren't hurt, but at the light of day, the tornado damage was overwhelming.

"It was just complete devastation," said Diane. "We could barely get to them to rescue them the night before."

"My first thought was, 'we'll get the girls' clothes and take a track hoe to it,'" said Dave.

"When we drove in, I just felt God speak to my heart that it was going to be better, and he would be glorified right here," Diane said.

Nearly five months later, the women's house has been transformed. Mennonite volunteers with Weaverland Disaster Service made huge strides in rebuilding while residents of the Next Step For Life program helped with tasks like painting.

Program coordinator Shirley Bailey gave News4 a tour.

"New flooring, new plumbing throughout the whole house," she said. "We added 1,400 square feet upstairs. So, it turned out to be even better than before."

These 38 years have brought Dave and Diane so much to be proud.

"In a world today that seems so divided and so divisive, can't say anything good about your neighbor, Putnam County is still a great place to be," said Dave.

Related coverage

Cookeville restaurant soldiers on after devastating tornado, pandemic is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

>> Click/tap here to download our free mobile app. <<

Copyright 2020 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.