Middle Tenn. remembers deadly tornadoes, 2 years later

Middle Tenn. remembers deadly tornadoes, 2 years later (Image 1)

Two years have passed since the deadliest tornado outbreak in recent memory.

On the night of February 5, 2008, twisters killed 33 people as they rolled across Tennessee.

The tornadoes destroyed 260 homes and buildings in three Mid-State counties.

Lafayette in Macon County to the northeast of Nashville suffered the most severe damage and the greatest death toll.

The damage totaled $78 million and 18 people were killed.

Marty Coley's tobacco farm in Macon County was destroyed in the storm.

In an interview with News 2 shortly after, he was optimistic he'd rebuild.

“We're gonna get ‘em build back and that's just the farmer's mentality, that's what it is,” he said in 2008.

Coley was able to rebuild and enlarge, in part, because his house was also destroyed.

Friday, he said building from the ground up has been an ongoing process and continues to be a process.

“It's been a major, major undertaking, obviously, it basically destroyed everything, took our greenhouses, took our home, our barns, fences, everything” he recalled.  “Of course, the first thing was trying to secure our greenhouses because that's the way we grow our tobacco plants for the crop year so we concentrated on that first and then got to concentrate on rebuilding our house and our barn then after that.”

Nearby, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church was also leveled.

At the time, church member Ricky Leath told News 2 “the building's gone but the church is still here.”

He and other members were thankful it wasn't worse.

“For what our area looks like, we're just grateful to even be here,” said one member.

Another said, “Everybody at this church, they love everyone here, they love the community surrounding this church and after the tornado struck, the community just pulled together and it just showed you how much love is in this community and in this area.”

The church eventually rebuilt their building and Friday night, will hold a service honoring the victims of the deadly tornadoes.

The tornado outbreak extended well beyond Macon County.

In Sumner County, eight people were killed.

The National Weather Service said the tornado that rolled through Castalian Springs had wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour.

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