10 years later: Dyer County devastation - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

10 years later: Dyer County devastation

(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives) (Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)
DYER COUNTY, TN (WMC) -

Ten years ago, an F3 tornado tore a trail of terror 25 miles long through Dyer and Gibson counties. 

It was just one of several tornadoes that devastated communities across eight states, killing 28 people.

Twenty-four of the 28 people killed in the storms lived in Tennessee--16 of them lived in Dyer County.

"It was like a bombed out community...everything was flat and scattered out everywhere," Millsfield firefighter Mary McQuarter remembered.

"I got up, looked out the back window, and the whole sky back there was black" McQuarter said.

She was at her brother's house just feet away from the fire station when the storms struck.

"My fire department pager went off. We went to the hallway, sat down, then it hit. That's how much warning we had."

On Saturday, April 2, two public events will be held for the anniversary. A new public tornado shelter will be dedicated on the grounds of Newbern Elementary School at 2 p.m, and a candlelight vigil will be held in Downtown Newbern at 7:15 p.m.

Then governor Phil Bredesen toured the damage the next day. He walked around some neighborhoods destroyed by the storms and he took a helicopter flight to get a different perspective.

"The wrath of God is the only way I can describe it," Bredesen said. "I have never seen anything like this, and I've been through several tornadoes. I'm used to seeing roofs off houses, houses blown over--these houses were down to their foundations, stripped clean."

Bredesen said the tornadoes destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

Joshua Medley and his mother clung to each other in a closet as a tornado bore down on their home. The ordeal lasted only a few minutes, but seemed like a lifetime.

"We got lifted up in the air and the house was spinning," Medley said. His 1,500-square foot home ended up 12 feet away from its foundation. "I didn't think we were going to make it."

A Mid-South teen filmed part of the tornado from his home. He got national recognition with his video appearing on Spike TV's Most Amazing Videos, The National Weather Channel's Storm Stories, CNN News, and Inside Edition.

Click here to watch the video.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5 and AP. All rights reserved.

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