Shoals first responders help with Tennessee search and rescue efforts after EF-4 tornado

WAAY 31 was given exclusive access with a search and rescue team from the Shoals, as they went through some of the hardest hit areas.

Posted: Mar 5, 2020 3:54 PM
Updated: Mar 5, 2020 8:22 PM

Around 2 p.m. Thursday, emergency officials confirmed the last missing person in Putnam County, a 6-year-old boy, was accounted for.

Before that, WAAY 31 was given exclusive access with a search and rescue team from the Shoals, as they went through some of the hardest hit areas, searching for missing people.

In the last 48 hours, the White Oak K-9 Search and Rescue crew has covered multiple miles in Putnam County trying to find anyone who survived the tornado and helping in recovery efforts.

We followed Corey Speegle and his K-9, Küsse, as they searched for missing people in Putnam County through downed trees and tornado debris.

"It's kind of hard when it's thick vegetation, but she [Küsse] will lead me back in to the victim,” Speegle said. “We're up here trying to help bring closure to loved ones and bring their family members home.”

Küsse, Raven and Bitty are all highly trained cadaver and live search dogs.

"It takes about one to two years to certify one of these dogs," Speegle said.

The search went high and low, through trees and over creeks in what looks a warzone.

"It's just everywhere you look. The part that's really sad, we didn't find anyone, but the cadaver dog was alerting where people were,” Speegle said.

Speegle said seeing the children's toys scattered about reminds him of what the Shoals has been through with tornadoes, and it's why he does this for free.

"I'm just glad I could come up here and help out, because you could never know. This could be us this spring. This could happen anywhere,” he said.

President Trump is visiting Tennessee on Friday. He's expected to visit Putnam County first and then make his way to Nashville to assess that damage, too.

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