22 people lost there lives that night as 15 tornadoes moved through Middle Tennessee. One of which was a massive EF-3 that blasted through Sumner, and Trousedale counties. But it was in Macon County that those affected, could only describe the scene to us as what they thought, was the end of the world.
The tornado blasted through a natural gas plant in Hartsville, igniting flames that grew to more than 100 feet in the air--so bright our sky eye camera from downtown nashville caught the glow from over 40 miles away.
The massive flames lit the night sky illuminating a monster tornado. "We were just about to go to bed and paw yelled there's a storm coming," said 9 year old Audrey Dyer. She fought back the tears remembering her great grandfather scream when he saw the twister headed right for their home where she, her great grandmother Janie and cousins were all sleeping.
"I remember getting up from bed, running in there and getting on the couch and you could hear little rocks and debris hitting the window and then everything just shattered," said Kyle Snow, Audrey's cousin. "Then all of a sudden all of the glass started breaking the windows and you could hear it popping and snapping," said Janie Trent. In a matter of seconds it was all over, the tornado tore right through their home. "After it was all over, we got up off the couch and looked outside, it looked like a war zone," said Garron Snow. Their house stood alone next to utter devastation. most everything in every direction was destroyed. "The storm part didn't really scare me the most, it was the screams afterwards that scared me to death, I couldn't stand the screams," said Garron Snow.
"I was just sitting there praying, that's all, just begging god to watch over us," said Janie Trent. Her prayers were answered with little Audrey's arms wrapped around her neck. "I tried to get her to put them under me you know but she wouldn't do it she just hung around my neck," said Trent. Debris flying around sliced Audrey's arm open. without them there, it could have been janie's neck. A scar on audrey's arm, is living proof today that this family experienced nothing short of a miracle. President bush even heard the families story, touring the damage after the storm.
Janie now has wind chimes outside on her porch of the families new house, built in the same spot as the old one. The chimes blowing in the wind are way Janie listen's to the wind, something she'll never take for granted again.
After the tornado moved up Janie's road it was headed right for Linda Howard's house where she was alone watching a Tennessee basketball game. She had just enough time to run to a hallway. "Then I started hearing my windows break, I thought oh Lord it's me this time," said Howard. The walls from Howard's home came crushing in on her. "The wind was so bad that I thought it was going to pull me out of the hallway," said Howard.
Just as fast as it moved through it was over, an erie silence after such destruction. "I looked and then looked again and realized I was seeing the sky, I said my house is gone," remembered Howard.
After cleaning up from the storm linda's grandson found this hymnal opened to the song "Shelter From The Storms," which she now has framed. "It's just a reminder that God did look over me, he sheltered me from the storm, that song has a true meaning," said Howard.
In the months following the disaster Macon county received millions of dollars in federal hazard mitigation funding meant to help prevent future disasters. One of the biggest strains during the disaster was getting help to rural areas so emergency management officials spent money on an emergency command center and new sirens. They also say the county now has over 250 new private in home tornado shelters.
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