Less than one year after tornadoes razed portions of Hamilton County, another band of severe storms plowed through the Harrison community, leveling at least 20 homes and severely injuring six to eight people.
Zeroing in on the eastern shores of Harrison Bay, the whirlwind barreled through Island Cove Marina, folding dock canopies and strewing boats before continuing down Hunter Road. Severe damages were sustained on Short Tail Springs Road, where several residents took refuge in basements as their homes collapsed around them.
Miraculously, no fatalities were reported.
Jennie Hood, a 56-year-old resident who has made her home with her husband on Short Tail Springs Road for 18 years, took shelter in her crawlspace seconds before the storm reduced their home to a pile of rubble.
Somehow, she emerged without a scratch.
“I held the doorknob, and then everything just fell on top of me,” she said, as friends and family members sifted through the wreckage. “I don’t know how I got out.”
In the hours following the storm, the sound of chainsaws could be heard roaring along the road as emergency crews and volunteers worked to clear a path for law enforcement officials. An officer with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department hacked away at a downed power line with a machete as residents of a mangled home sat in their living room, lacking walls and a roof.
After searching homes, crews marked mailboxes with strands of caution tape to signal that residents were accounted for.
Rob Cofer, a 75-year-old, 30-year resident of the area, made his way through downed trees to see if his mailbox had withstood the wind. If it had not been for his weather radio, Cofer would have been oblivious to the winds that would alter the landscape of his community.
“I heard it was coming my way,” he said. “I got me some quilts and pillows and went down in my basement and got under the staircase. I could hear all the commotion upstairs. It blew out my dining room, things off the walls, everything is just destroyed. It sounded like choppers, and it was quick, about 10 or 15 seconds.”
Paula Faulkner was on the road, driving to pick up her daughter at Hunter Middle School. She felt her ears pop, and suddenly the landscape around her began to change.
“The trees just started falling like toothpicks,” she said. “They were just falling down the hill.”
Triage units and a command post have been established since the storm took place. The National Weather Service has yet to confirm the strength of the tornado.
Updated @ 6:04 a.m. on 03/03/12 to change the spelling of “Jenny” to “Jennie.”