Couple saved minutes before tornado hit their house by emergency text alert

The death toll caused by the storm has risen to 24, with another 21 individuals still missing

Louise Hall
Thursday 05 March 2020 00:03 GMT
Mobile phone alerts help Tennessee couple escape to basement

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


A couple’s life may have been saved by an emergency alert that allowed them enough time to get to their basement before a tornado tore through their house.

When Billy and Kathy Dyer emerged from the basement on Tuesday morning, their bedroom had no walls.

Moments before the tornado struck, Dyer had received an emergency text allowing the couple to go downstairs to the safety of their basement.

“Thank God we had enough time to get downstairs to the basement or we would probably not be here,” Mr Dyer said.

His 34-year-old daughter had to take shelter in the basement of a house where she called her father “screaming and crying”.

”Thank God my mother had a basement, a very small basement,“ the 64-year-old said. ”She was standing there between the crack of the door screaming and crying, top of the house gone.“

The couple had to rely on the emergency text message to alert them of the storm, while in some parts of Nashville and Putnam County outdoor sirens alert residents.

”If the cell phones didn’t have the emergency call, it wouldn’t have been good,“ Mr Dyer explained.

The storm has left 24 people dead, with another 21 individuals still missing, state officials have said.

The tornado has caused widespread wreckage throughout the state, demolishing homes and businesses, leaving many without power on Wednesday.

According to ABC News, five of the dead in Putnam County, which suffered the greatest human toll, are children.

The disaster has left people buried in piles of rubble after tearing through building structures and houses.

Putnam Sheriff Eddie Farris said about 40 per cent of the rubble still needs to be searched.

Residents of Nashville have been forced to pick through the rubble trying to salvage anything possible from the wreckage the tornado has caused.

CNN said that the National Weather Service is still surveying the damage, but that hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the storms.

A level three state of emergency remains in place, with a large extent of the damage caused by the storm still left unkown.

Terry Cooler, an elder at the Double Springs Church of Christ spoke of how his mother lost her home in the storm and then was rushed to a hospital.

“I’m sure the stress didn’t help her,” Mr Cooler said. “She’s 86 and lost everything.”

National Weather Service survey teams indicated that the damage in Nashville and Wilson County to the east was inflicted by a tornado of at least EF-3 intensity.

EF-3 is the fourth out of six levels of tornado intensity parameters, and the storm has caused severe damage and fatality across the area.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in