Tornado survivor loses job due to coronavirus

Weather Headlines

When the walls of his house collapsed around his family during a tornado that struck after midnight, Jose Cojom thought it was a bad dream. 

But that was just the beginning. 

A few weeks later, the restaurant where he cooks closed its doors because of the coronavirus. 

Now, living in a rental home, Cojom’s family faces an uncertain future, unsure whether to rebuild or move on.

In this March 26, 2020, photo, a utility worker repairs a power line in Cookeville, Tenn. People still reeling from the deadly twisters that hit the state on March 3 now have to confront life in the age of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

“So, after the tornado, you know I thought that hopefully everything would go back to normal soon. But then they started talking about coronavirus. I work in a restaurant. So, they talked about shutting down. To like, last week, the owner decide to closing it down. So now I don’t have a job,” Cojom said. 

Like thousands of other Middle Tennesseans, Cojom’s life has been upended by back-to-back disasters. 

Putnam County residents still reeling from the deadly twisters of March 3 now have to confront life in the age of coronavirus. 

The storms that tore through the region killed 25 people – 19 in Putnam County, 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of Nashville – and damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings. 

In this March 26, 2020, photo, workers clear tornado debris from yards in Cookeville, Tenn. People still reeling from the deadly twisters that hit the state on March 3 now have to confront life in the age of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Homes where people had been sleeping were demolished, sending families to hotels and shelters. 

Donations poured in, electrical and construction crews mobilized, and volunteers handed out supplies and served meals.

Then the coronavirus pandemic complicated the recovery efforts. 

The virus has sickened more than 2,600 in Tennessee and more than 30 in Putnam County, according to the state health department. 

In this March 26, 2020, photo, utility workers repair a power line in a residential neighborhood in Cookeville, Tenn. People still reeling from the deadly twisters that hit the state on March 3 now have to confront life in the age of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Residents who had united to help tornado-stricken neighbors quickly retreated to their houses. 

Volunteers who came from as far as Kansas went back home. 

The emergence of COVID-19 closed business and schools and set off a wave of hotel cancellations. 

As the virus encroaches on the county where twisted metal still hangs in trees along Interstate 40, Mayor Randy Porter said debris cleanup could take another eight weeks. 

The hospital had four COVID-19 patients Wednesday, spokeswoman Melahn Finley said.

In most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks. 

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and may be life-threatening.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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