Family and friends honor loved ones lost during December 2021 storms in Dawson Springs

‘My mom was my best friend. She was a great mom through all stages of my life.’
Family and friends honor loved ones lost during December 2021 storms in Dawson Springs
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 9:33 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2022 at 10:53 PM CST
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DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WFIE) - The one-year anniversary of the December 2021 tornadoes in western Kentucky is only weeks away, and family and friends gathered in Dawson Springs City Park to remember those they lost.

“For them to make this a priority means the world to the families of those who were affected,” said Amy Blades.

Blades lost both of her parents in the deadly storms that claimed the lives of 19 Dawson Springs residents.

“I can stand right here and look down the hill and see exactly where they were,” Blades said. “There’s nothing left of where they were.”

People in Dawson Springs have been rebuilding ever since. The homes can be, and have been, replaced.

The people they lost, however, are irreplaceable.

“Going through this tragedy has allowed us to make new relationships with just the outpour of love,” Blades said.

Blades’ parents, Jeff and Jennifer Eckert, lived on Elaine Drive, a neighborhood that was in the direct path of the tornadoes.

Blades described her parents as “snowbirds,” speaking on how they routinely traveled to Florida during the winter months. She says their decision to live close to their family, however, was something they wouldn’t want any other way.

“My mom was my best friend,” Blades said. “She was a great mom, through all stages of my life. She’s a great nana, she loves her grandkids. We all miss her, so much.”

As the victims’ names were read followed by the ring of a bell, emotion came over the crowd of family and friends.

“More than anything I hope it helps bring comfort to the families of those we lost,” said President of the Dawson Springs Rotary Tabatha Adams.

The rotary unveiled a teardrop-shaped memorial, with the names of the 19 Dawson Springs residents who died, etched in the stone.

“Their memory will live on for generations to come in Dawson Springs, and although they may be gone, they won’t be forgotten,” Adams said.

Following the ceremony’s end, Blades went to the memorial to find the names of her parents. To remember who she lost, and to find solace in the tribute.

“We can go to Elaine Drive where their home was, but it’s just still full of devastation and it’s still so heartbreaking,” Blades said. “So having something with a positive spin to visit, will be very much a good thing for all of us.”

The memorial symbolizes more than just a remembrance of those lost, it also serves as a pillar of a community that continues to build back as best as they can.

“You may be able to knock us down, but we’re going to get back up again,” Adams said.

The memorial is placed in the heart of the path in which the tornado swept through in Dawson Springs, in the city park.

It serves as a place where people will be able to visit, remember and honor their loved ones, for years to come.