Community remembers tornado that tore through Union University 10 years ago

JACKSON, Tenn. — Almost 10 years ago, an entire university community watched as as a destructive EF-4 tornado tore through their campus. Friday, they came together to give thanks that none of their students were killed that fateful day.

“We looked up, and we could see the funnel forming. There was about seven of us standing by the door, and then somebody yelled, ‘run!’,” recalls Danny Song, Union alumni and survivor of the tornado.

Song shared the astonishing story about how he survived that day back in 2008 when a tornado ripped through the campus of Union University. A packed house as students, alumni and members of the community came together to thank God and one another for their relief efforts.

“The Jackson community turned out like champs, and we had cars and people coming to campus to pick up students and put them in beds for the night,” recalls Tim Ellsworth, Director of Communications for Union University, “and just a few hours later we had everyone in a bed.”

The incident being the only EF-4 tornado in recorded history in West Tennessee that did not end in fatalities.

“I just hit the floor and scrunched my body as small as it could get, and I felt this couch slide up beside me and later found out what felt like a table was actually a concrete slab wall,” Song said, “and the only reason it didn’t crush me, was because that couch had slid beside me.”

Students like Danny shared their stories Friday night; many people thinking they were nothing short of a miracle.

“Once they put me on a stretcher, they passed me down a line of students who had been standing there the whole time,” said Song, “professors, students and first responders saying, ‘Danny, we’ve been here the whole time’.”

A decade later some of the students have gone on to be doctors and teachers; their legacy living on in their children.

“She said, daddy, who moved the couch? And we say, God moved the couch,” Song said.

University representatives tell us the tornado resulted in around $40 million worth of damage. They say graduation that year was still held on time, and the buildings were up and running by fall of the following semester.

Organizers said Friday night’s service was the final event, ending a day of remembrance and reflection of the night the tornado hit Union’s campus.