Pastor Darrin Crockett just wanted his dog to shut up and go to sleep.
He recalled being awake before the devastating tornado struck down because their beloved family dog “Doc” was barking incessantly, which was a bit unusual.
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“It was really making me angry because I wanted to sleep. I went out several times to check and there was nothing outside, there was nothing going on. “I remember praying, ‘God, you are sovereign over all things, can you please make the dog stop barking? Make him shut up?’ But I think the Lord had other reasons for the dog barking.”
Doc kept on barking away, however. This meant Crockett was awake when the alerts started coming across the phone that there was bad weather in the area.
When the thunderstorm warning turned into a tornado warning, Crockett ushered his family into their laundry room, which is their safety room for severe weather.
“Barely gotten the door shut when the house started shaking and it was on us. Next thing you know it was gone.”
The house literally came down on top of them, one of the many victims in the powerful EF-4 tornado that ripped through Cookeville. Miraculously, Crockett, his wife, and three daughters came out of the chaos relatively unscathed.
They were stuck, however, in darkness and rubble, literally “under the house.”
They were able to navigate their way out of the wreckage using the light provided by the storm. “Lightning would strike and my wife would be able to see ahead. We followed her out of the house and tried to figure out where do we go from here.”
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Reflecting on that night, Crockett sees how God orchestrated their survival. Had Doc not barked most of the night, Crockett may not have heard his phone alarm signaling a storm warning. As a result, he and his wife, Jenny, and daughters Carly, Camryn and Carrigan took refuge in the laundry room, the only place they probably could have survived, Crockett said.
“We heard it coming and suddenly the house began to shake,” he said. “Next thing I remember is I felt grass underneath me. The tornado must have picked up the entire house dropped it in the yard with us buried underneath it.”
A 2×4 board that fell across a turned over washer and dryer likely provided them enough room to keep from being crushed. Lighting flashes exposed what few openings there were and the family crawled out from the collapsed building with only a few minor cuts and scratches.
Crockett is associate pastor of Vine Branch Community Church in Cookeville.
“It is amazing,” he told Baptist and Reflector. “If our dog had not alerted us, who knows where we would have ended up?”
Crockett also added that it was a miracle God spared them from the wreckage and said they have “tremendous peace and joy.”
He explained how seeing the community come together affirms God’s goodness and said he’s not surprised the church is rallying to help those in need. “When it comes down to it, the church does what God calls it to do. Nothing else matters in times like these.”
As for Doc, the family dog who kept them awake prior to the storm’s arrival, thus allowing them to get to safety, he was not able to make it through the storm.
Crockett concluded, “He will go down as a hero. We will celebrate him and talk about him for a long time.”