A tornado came, and her mother was gone: A Tennessee community remembers storm victim

Brie Lovett said, "I dove headfirst in my closet as the tornado destroyed my home." Her mother Cheryl didn't make it out alive.
Maury County tornado victim Cheryl Lovett
Posted at 2:25 PM, May 10, 2024

Family, co-workers and friends are remembering tornado victim Cheryl Lovett, who was killed when a powerful storm hit her Middle Tennessee community on Wednesday.

She died when a tornado ripped through their family's property in Maury County, just outside of Nashville.

Cheryl's daughter Brie Lovett said the "only way we are gonna get through this is support." With "family, friends, strangers that have showed up," she said. "It's a blessing."

She described those last moments before her mother was killed as the storm suddenly hit their home.

"I was on the porch and it went quiet. My best friend had got through on my phone and yelled 'Take cover!'" she said. "My brother ran to get his 3-month-old twin [babies] ... I dove headfirst into my closet as the tornado destroyed the home."

Soon after, Brie discovered that her mother, Cheryl, was killed in the tornado. Brie's great aunt, Penny, was injured in the storm and was still hospitalized as of Thursday, Scripps News Nashville reported.

Images of the family's home showed just how extensive the destructive winds from the storm and tornado were. Entire sections of the home were ripped away and strewn about their property.

The family asked for help and created online crowd-sourcing campaigns to try to recover, according to reports. Community members joined together to create an event, with proceeds going to benefit the family.

Cheryl was well-known to her community and worked at a nearby market and restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee for nearly 40 years.

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder shared a message with community members on Wednesday letting them know he had received multiple reports of tornado sightings in the town. He said, "The city of Columbia did appear to avoid the worst of the storm in the city limits, but very close by was a different story."

Authorities, friends, family and other community members would soon after discover that Cheryl had been killed in her nearby home.

The region faced multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms that same day that carried on into early Thursday morning, The Tennessean reported. People in Middle Tennessee had been under a tornado watch until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, well past sunset when tornadoes were still easily visible, depending on conditions.

The tornado that hit the Columbia area was still visible as dusk approached on Wednesday, and cars on I-65 stopped on the shoulder of the highway to watch the dangerous funnel cloud as it touched down.

The Tennessean reported that a boy became caught in a storm drain and was still in critical condition in a hospital by Thursday. Another person died in East Tennessee after being hit by a fallen tree.