“People heard the warnings. According to the people we spoke with, they heard the sirens in Watertown, about 5 miles away,” Johnstone said.
The tornado touched down and caused damage along a continuous 6-mile path from Wilson County into Smith and DeKalb Counties. Johnstone said the path was estimated to be about 100 yards in width and “hundreds of trees were uprooted or snapped” in its path.
The tornado also caused damage to roofs and trees north of Alexandria and the last evidence of damage from the storm could be seen along Lower Helton Road, about 2 miles east of Alexandria.
At least one eyewitness in the area east of Watertown saw the storm’s power from his home. Brian Bayse, who lives on Haley Road, said he and his wife, Meredith, saw the roof of his father-in-law’s barn be torn off and strewn on the hillside by the tornado, after which he quickly notified his in-laws about the emergency.
“I called her and she didn’t even know anything was coming,” Bayse said, referring to his mother-in-law, Linda Curtis.
The roof of the barn was completely torn off with wood and tin lying across the ground. Bayse said he didn’t have any damage at his own home, which sits atop an adjacent hill, but was helping his in-laws and neighbors with downed trees, telephone lines and other damage.
“All around this road it blew tress and poles down. AT&T is coming out here to repair the poles,” he added.
Bayse’ wife was getting ready to go to church around the time the storm hit. He said he saw his wife was about to leave and asked her to stay home because of the weather.
When he warned her, Bayse said they were at the window and they saw the Curtis’ barn take the brunt of the tornado’s force. Bayse was grateful no one was hurt in the storm and said if his wife had left for church she “would have been right in the middle of it.”
Across the street from Bayse’ property, Javin Lawson also had his home damaged by the tornado. Lawson said he and his wife, Cindy, and nephew, were in their home when the tornado spun through their property.
The roof on Lawson’s back porch was torn off and was lying in his front yard Thursday morning. Also, a storage shed that he built onto the back of a garage was ripped off and spread across the property.
“We just got into the closet,” Lawson said, adding that he doesn’t have a storm shelter or basement. “The good Lord and us, we made it.”
Lawson also had shingles torn from his roof and other damage, which allowed rain to leak into his home Wednesday night. Friends, family and neighbors were on hand Thursday morning to assist with the cleanup.
Patchy frost was in the forecast for last night with a low near 33 degrees.
There is a 20 percent chance of rain today, but otherwise partly sunny with a high of 52. The rain chance increases tonight to 60 percent with a low of 43.
There is a 60 percent chance of rain and maybe a thunderstorm on Saturday with a high near 54. A 60 percent chance of rain and possibly a thunderstorm is the forecast for Saturday night with a low of 41.
Sunday should be mostly cloudy with a high of about 52.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.