Tornadoes ripped area one year ago


By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

A year ago Thursday night (Feb. 5), tornados ripped through Tennessee, both to the south of Lebanon, and just to the north.

Those storms left friends and neighbors of many in Wilson County homeless, bereaved, without clothing, furniture or food and with other life-threatening needs.

The storms did touch the northwestern edge of Wilson County, but did little damage there.

One huge super-cell tornado destroyed a gas transmission plant in Macon County which burst into flames that were visible over much of Wilson County.

Several students from Wilson County were left alive but shaken with only the clothes they were wearing when they sought shelter, after another tornado destroyed several buildings on Union College’s campus in Jackson.

About 2,500 people who work in Wilson County but live in areas devastated by the tornadoes had to miss work until roads could be cleared and some lost homes or suffered injuries.

And of the 33 Tennesseans killed by the storms, two were the grandparents of a Quality Care Health Center employee.

The storm affected another Wilson County couple when it destroyed the Macon County home of Wilson Emergency Management Agency Capt. Philip Spears and his wife, June.

Both Spears’ work for WEMA and the day after the storms Capt. Spears was at work helping others as usual.

Spears said recently that WEMA personnel and other friends have continued to pitch in to help in the year since the storm.

“Some of the guys have come up and helped a little along, those that had some experience in carpentry trade,” he said.

They have almost completed rebuilding their home, and Spears added that many of their neighbors have as well.

“We’re about a week from having our new home complete,” he said. “My closest neighbor Mr. Tugg is building a log house and we’re in an awful close race.”

He added that both he and his neighbor built houses with basements under them.“I’ve put in a full size basement with a storm shelter, a lot did.”

He said he would advise anyone who can to have a safe place for storms. “If we have any more storms like that one, the people here need to build storm shelters and have some kind of safe place to go.”

Life goes on and the Spears family is growing, too.

“We have a brand new grandbaby born in June,” he said. “She’s the star of our lives.” He added that he and his wife June are keeping busy spoiling little Jessa Leanne Spears.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.