Union University remembers devastating tornado 5 years later

Union University remembers devastating tornado 5 years later (Image 1)

Five years ago Tuesday marks the day deadly tornadoes tore across Middle Tennessee and claimed nearly two dozen lives.

Before arriving in the Mid-State, the same storms took aim at Jackson, Tennessee, including a university campus that proved to be one of the more incredible scenes as nearly 20 buildings were destroyed.

For students at Union University, a plaque that reads February 5, 2008 is all they will ever know about the 20 seconds that changed the campus.

A nighttime tornado classified as an EF4 ripped through packed student dorms.

Students huddled in the halls as the buildings literally collapsed on top of them.  

First responders reportedly called back to the Jackson Hospital, warning emergency crews that an enormous amount of body bags would be needed. 

Rescue operations continued through the night, as even more tornado warnings would not drive emergency personnel and students from pulling their classmates from the rubble. 

Only the next day from the air could the miracle be seen.  While the tornado devastated the heart of the campus, not a single life had been lost.

That day the clock on Miller Tower was frozen at 7:02 p.m.  While the clock stood still, the campus did not. Rebuilding began almost immediately.

Union University rebuilt a campus stronger than ever.

The university added more dorms with re-enforced safe rooms and a new student life center. The campus rebuild renewed faith and vision. 

To this day, for those that were there, 70 degrees in February is no time to celebrate an early spring, as they fear it will prompt another devastating storm.

For incredible photos of the damage and rebuilding, click here.

Union University is livestreaming a five year memorial service from the campus chapel at 7:02 p.m. Tuesday.

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