COOKEVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Six months ago, the McBroom Chapel community was full of the sounds of chainsaws clearing debris.

Today, you hear the power tools of new construction.

Electrician Tyler Winfree is one of the tradesmen building or repairing homes hit by the deadly tornado in March.

Several houses are under construction in this hard-hit neighborhood. Cookeville is slowly rebuilding.

"It's a great thing for the families," Winfree said.

The tornado that hit Cookeville in March destroyed more than 150 homes. It took 19 lives.

"We don't forget and we never will," said John Nichols, a minister at Collegeside Church of Christ.

Its members suffered heavy losses; the youth minister's daughter, for one.

It was a dark time. But in the midst of tragedy, Nichols said Cookeville witnessed overwhelming generosity and kindness.

"The UPS driver was here a lot," he said.

“The storehouse of heaven was opened,” he said.  

Nichols said prayers, cards, donations and gifts flooded in, including handmade quilts that had been personalized, stitch by stitch.

"The names were embroidered by hand," Nichols said. "Every gift was so sincere and was used and was sent with such love."

Within days of the tornado, Cookeville took a second punch - the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sunday following the tornado was the last time they would worship together in their church building for months.

"It was a tough decision to make," said Nichols about the decision to have on-line only worship for a time. "We needed each other. Man, we needed each other."

"It's been increasingly challenging because during the time when we needed each other the most, we were isolated,“ he said.

Nichols said his family felt the isolation of quarantine just a few weeks ago. He and his wife became mildly ill with COVID.

Their children also tested positive. Everyone is okay now.

His family felt the love and generosity of the community. People left food at their door.

"They would send us a text to let us know they had left something outside," he said.

Nichols said many of those who suffered storm damage to their homes are rebuilding, with the help of the federal government, the insurance companies, and the generosity of the community. 

"We still need your prayers," he said.

“We don’t move on. But we move forward,” Nichols said.

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