Tornado That ‘Just Appeared’ Left Two Dead In A Damaged Lincoln County

Lincoln County, Tennessee on Tuesday, not far from the Alabama line. Credit: Daniel Potter / WPLN

Lincoln County, Tennessee on Tuesday, not far from the Alabama line. Credit: Daniel Potter / WPLN

WPLN’s Daniel Potter has been in Lincoln County today, talking with residents and officials trying to make sense of what happened last night when a tornado ripped through.

An elementary school took a direct hit and dozens of houses were destroyed. Many more structures were damaged and trees snapped like twigs. Several thousand are still without power.

The storm killed two, a man and wife, in their home, and injured seven.

The ‘All Clear’ Had Been Given

In an afternoon press conference, County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder said the storm came on suddenly. People had been sheltering in the school earlier, but the all clear had been given before the tornado arrived:

The Horton family, next door to the school that was hit, were out cleaning up. Ethan Horton says his aunt took shelter in a bathtub, while a neighbor flipped over a recliner and hunkered down with his grandkids.

On nearby Price Lane, Robert Bradford points to several houses that were leveled, but somehow no one in them was hurt.

“What you’re looking at used to be—home right there’s nothing but a foundation. Right across the road used to be a home, and then there’s a home right there with the roof totally gone off of it and the inside completely gone. Seven people made it through in that one house, crammed into one bedroom. They lost everything they got, but they didn’t get a scratch.”

Price Lane. Credit: Daniel Potter / WPLN

Price Lane. Credit: Daniel Potter / WPLN

The tornado hit unexpectedly, after officials thought the worst had passed. Debbie Koonce says she hid under a table, laying on top of her 9-year-old granddaughter while debris and glass whirled through the air.

After a sleepless night, Koonce found herself wandering through the rubble of what used to be her house, with a sunburn from the long day outside.

“It’s like I’m just wandering around. I’m not really—I did go up and walk and look at some stuff, but I can’t—I pick up stuff and lay it back down. I’ve just never experienced anything like it.”

Response

Self-appointed volunteers arrived throughout the day, but many were sent away with nothing to do as officials focused on search and recovery.

There’s an 8pm-6am curfew in effect tonight in the area. County Mayor Peggy Bevels addresses the press:

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