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After early-morning tornadoes whipped through parts of Middle TN, residents assessed the damage

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Damon Mitchell | WPLN News
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Pegram resident Tiffany Campbell woke up at 3:15 a.m. to a text from her brother telling her to check on their mom.

“I threw my clothes on. I was like, I’m going, I don’t care if I have to go clear to White Bluff and turn around. One way or another, if I have to walk it, I’m getting to my mom,” Campbell said.

When she made it to her mother and grandma in Kingston Springs, she found they were safe, but, she says, their homes were nearly destroyed.

“I’m grateful because, by the looks of it, it was just a matter of seconds, and mom would have been — she would have been gone,” Campbell says.

While the worst of the weather hit neighboring Kentucky, the small town west of Nashville was among the hardest hit by Saturday morning’s severe storms and tornadoes in Middle Tennessee.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, the death toll from the severe storm was up to four, with a new fatality reported in Shelby County.

December tornadoes are rare in Tennessee, which experiences most of its twisters between March and May, according to data from the National Weather Service. NWS reports the state has experienced just 16 tornadoes in the month of December since 1811, compared to 209 in April.

ason Calhoun, right, stands with his daughter in the front yard of their damaged home.
Credit Damon Mitchell | WPLN News

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Brittney Whitehead of National Weather Service Nashville says the combination of a low-pressure system moving north of Middle Tennessee accompanied by a cold front allowed warm, moist air to generate “very strong and severe storms.”

Officials with NWS Nashville are set to visit sites Sunday to more precisely determine the nature of the storms. But in the early morning hours, tornadoes were detected by radar in Hendersonville, Mount Juliet and Dickson.

Dickson resident Jason Calhoun and his family quickly took shelter in a closet in the early morning hours, after the rain intensified.

“It sounded like someone was hitting on the house with a baseball bat. It got louder and louder, like a freight train. I heard the windows break, and air rushing through the house,” he says.

But, he says, it only lasted about 20 seconds. And assessing the damage to his house later, he says it could have been a lot worse.

Several areas were recovering from storm damage Saturday, like Old Hickory Village and Bordeaux.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, around 57,000 people remain without power in Middle Tennessee, and more than 70,000 throughout the state.

 

Samantha Max covers criminal justice for WPLN and joins the newroom through the Report for America program. This is her second year with Report for America: She spent her first year in Macon, Ga., covering health and inequity for The Telegraph and macon.com.
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