‘That’s the moment I knew they weren’t asleep’: Daughter remembers parents lost in Dec. 10 tornado

‘That’s the moment I knew they weren’t asleep’: Daughter remembers parents lost in tornado
Published: Dec. 10, 2022 at 6:52 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2022 at 10:58 PM CST
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DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (WFIE) - It’s hard to put into words the aftermath of the tornado that tore through western Kentucky communities on Dec. 10, 2021.

As neighbors, friends and family honor who and what they lost on that fateful day, they are also hopeful for the future of their homes.

One year ago, Amy Blades heard of the damage that came to Dawson Springs. After many failed attempts to make contact with her parents, she was hoping they would call back when cell service was restored.

“We’re looking for them everywhere, we keep yelling, it is truly awful,” Blades said, recalling a message from a friend that night in Dawson Springs. “That’s the moment I knew they weren’t asleep.”

Amy’s parents, Jeff and Jennifer Eckert, lived on Elaine Drive in Dawson Springs. Her family went in to look for them when they waited hours for a callback.

“My sister-in-law got me on the phone and she was the one that told me they were gone,” Blades recalled.

Eventually, once the debris had cleared, Amy’s family would find her parents.

“Although I hate that they had to be the ones, selfishly I’m so thankful that they were the ones that found them,” Blades said. “It brings me some peace.”

One year removed, the scars of that night remain as vivid as the scars of the landscape across western Kentucky.

“Today has felt like a really bad case of deja vu,” Blades said. “You see these events leading up to it and you wish you could just change it all.”

When looking at Dawson Springs now, homes are being rebuilt where they used to stand. Amy says watching western Kentucky rebuild is promising, but it also hurts to know her loss wasn’t material.

“But you hear rebuild, rebuild, rebuild, and everything that was lost is coming back,” Blades said. “It’s not, there are some of us that don’t have that opportunity.”

Their family found a space, however, to be with their loved ones.

At Mahr Park in Madisonville, a bench stands in a small clearing, remembering Amy’s parents. The spot where that bench now sits was the last place her whole family was together.

“It was the last day my mom was with all of her siblings,” Blades said. “All of our extended family was together that day, it was beautiful.”

On Saturday, Blades celebrated with smiles, with memories of her mother’s light-hearted pranks, and her father’s signature Hawaiian shirts.

All these memories, she hopes, generations of her family, especially her kids, will remember and cherish for years to come.

“She’d be very, very proud of them, and I don’t want them to ever, ever, ever forget them,” Blades said.

Amy said that she would spend the day how her mother would want her to, which was by making her mother’s famous chocolate pies.

She hasn’t tried making them since before the storm, but Amy said she’s had a pretty good teacher all these years. She added that she’ll enjoy the time she can spend with her family given the weight of the day.