LAFAYETTE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thirteen years ago, the infamous “Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak” ravaged parts of Middle Tennessee.
The worst tragedy occurred in Sumner, Macon, and Trousdale counties where an EF-3 tornado was the cause of 24 fatalities.
Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons recalled the horrible night.
“I remember picking up a phone call that night that stated their family was gone, their house was gone,” said Gammons.
“At that point on, I left and I remember going and getting to the golf course area, the neighborhood out there. And I can remember it was just like a war zone. People screaming, powerlines down, houses gone that you knew were there. But now they’re gone.”
Before the tornado hit, people were reporting fires all over the county. What they were actually seeing was the Columbia Gulf gas company’s compressor station to their southwest in Hartsville in flames after being struck by the tornado. Sheriff Gammons said that may have helped alert people.
“It was unfortunate that Columbia Gulf was hit,” explained Gammons. “But I don’t know if this storm had been 30 minutes later and Columbia Gulf hadn’t gotten hit, with that glow waking people up, and on the news, they were talking about it, and at 11:30, how much more of a tragedy we could have had.”
In all, 24 people died, 22 during the tornado, and two more afterward. One died from a heart attack and another from carbon monoxide poisoning the next day.
All are memorialized by a monument on the Lafayette town square. But Sheriff Gammons said this tragedy also brought everyone together.
“Maybe I’m a little biased,” said Gammons. “But this county here comes together during tragedies, any type of tragedy. They may fight one another, but when something like this happens, we all come together.”