Residents reflect on tornado that struck Hardin Co. 10 years ago

SAVANNAH, Tenn. — We often pause to look back on how past severe storms have affected West Tennessee. Residents of Hardin County reflected Thursday on a tornado that struck the county more than a decade ago.

On Feb. 5, 2008, the National Weather Service predicted a high risk of tornadoes in West Tennessee. A damage survey would later determine an EF-4 tornado had touched down in Hardin County.

“It hit about five miles north of downtown Savannah,” Emergency Management Agency Director Melvin Martin said.

Martin was on the Tennessee River bridge trying to get a look when he got the alert of a touchdown.

“It wiped out a large portion that it hit,” Martin said. “It was 15 miles long and up to a half a mile wide in some locations.”

The first reported call for help was at Sharon Baptist Church, a location that saw extreme devastation.

“It destroyed quite a few homes. We had three fatalities, and I do recall initially there was a report of somebody missing, and it was about 2 o’clock that morning when we found that person missing,” Martin said.

According to the National Weather Service, the highest estimated winds were around 170 mph. Martin says it was a night many who live in the community will never forget.

“Everybody that lived here in that time remembers where they were and what they were doing at that time,” Martin said.

In the initial damage assessment, there were 70 homes, one church and a private school destroyed. The estimated loss totaled more than $17 million.

With spring weather approaching, Martin advises everyone to be aware of severe weather watches and warnings.

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