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MACON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was an emotional day in Macon, Sumner and Trousdale counties as survivors marked 10 years since the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak.
An EF-3 killed 23 people that day – 13 in Macon County, eight in Sumner County and two in Sumner County.
“It was like a war zone,” Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons said. “It looked like something you’d see on TV in a war movie, like somebody just dropped a bomb out – houses blown apart, trees across the road, people screaming, electrical lines down. The best way I could describe it was it was like a war zone.”
On Monday a memorial service was held on the town square in Lafayette where a monument is dedicated to those who lost their lives in Macon County that day. All of the victims’ names are etched in stone on the monument.
“I can remember me and another officer back there after we’d found one of the persons who was deceased,” recalled Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons. “We started praying because we knew we needed help.”
Help ultimately came, and Sheriff Gammon said Wilson County’s sheriff at the time immediately sent over a dozen deputies.
Gammons added the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association also sent officers from all over the state to assist.
He said he feels the volunteer spirit of the state helped them through the tragedy.
Tammy Brawner and her husband were among the survivors of the Super Tuesday outbreak.
She said she and her husband had just taken shelter in their bathroom when the tornado ripped through their home.
Brawner broke her neck in two places and her left arm was damaged badly when they were sucked up into the tornado and thrown onto a concrete slab in their yard.
Now 10 years after nearly losing everything, she talked to News 2 about surviving the deadly tornado.
“Because of my injuries I don’t have full function of my hands – even my hand that didn’t receive damage I don’t have [full function of] because of damage to my spine. I don’t have grip in my hands,” she explained.
“My neck did not heal correctly. I wake up most mornings with a headache. I have trouble from that, but I’m here. I can feel my neck hurting, so I try not to complain about it because the other option would’ve been not good. But [I’m] just glad too, that He wasn’t finished with me because now I have four grandchildren and I wouldn’t have gotten to see them if I hadn’t made it through that night and that may be one of the reasons I’m still here.”
Survivor Michelle Qualls remembers the tornado like it was yesterday.
“Our home exploded and they went straight up because I remember watching them and it ripped their shirts from my hands and I couldn’t grab them because something hit me in the side of my head and knocked me the other way. They were talking about it being a bad dream. I felt myself in the whirl just going round and round and round and I thought to myself ‘this can’t be happening,'” said Qualls.
The tornado outbreak is called “Super Tuesday” because Tennessee was one of the states holding the presidential primary election on Feb. 5, 2008.