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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Area residents avert disaster in Tennessee

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

JACKSON, Tenn. - It was just like any old town. Jackson had its historical section, its manufacturing facilities and even its churches. Today, though, many of those things have been changed forever - they are no longer there.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Madison County resident Jason Compton. "There are over 30,000 people without power still and some of the buildings that I see every day here simply aren't here. Some of the people downtown don't know where they are because there are no landmarks. Everything has been leveled.

From all reports, there were two major tornadoes. The first ripped through the middle of downtown Jackson. It took out everything from the police station to the main post office facility. In this area now, where the south part of Highway 45 splits into the bypass, there is no one allowed through. Currently (as of Monday night) police and fire crews are still digging through the rubble, which consists of everything from bricks to police uniforms.

One of the luckiest people in all this is Essex, Mo., resident Kimberly Taylor. Taylor, who graduated from Jackson State Community College on Saturday, drove through Jackson on Sunday afternoon before the storms hit.

"Everything was just like it always had been," said Taylor. "We knew that there were some storms coming, but no one could have ever expected something like this. I, like everyone else, saw all the footage on CNN and I can't believe what it looks like. I mean, there was one spot on the tape that I saw that I was at - at a stoplight just 24 hours ago, and now look at it. Those same stop lights are a block and a half over."

Taylor also had a link to the second twister that went through Jackson.

"All of my family and my fiance's family was in Jackson on Saturday afternoon. He took his family out to Pringles Park to tour the ballpark. From the sounds of it, it was a good thing that he did," Taylor said.

The northeast part of Jackson was hit by the other tornado, which left the Procter and Gamble facility without a roof. That P&G plant is the only in the nation that produces Pringles Potato Chips.

Named after the chips, "The Big Chip" or Pringles Park, where the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx play baseball, was also hit by the storm. There used to be a brick sign out front of the field, but now there is only a pile of bricks.

One of the problems for the Jaxx was water damage.

"As of 11 p.m. Monday, we still do not have electricity at the ballpark," said Compton. "We have a lot of problems with water in offices and in the suites upstairs, but other than some limbs down on the field, the playing surface is in good shape."

The biggest problems that the city of Jackson faced Monday were restoring power and water to the city. As of 2 p.m. Monday, over 20,000 residents of Madison County were still without power.

There are many students from Southeast Missouri, 10 from Dexter, one from Bloomfield and one from Sikeston who are still in Tennessee, taking finals at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, which is 10 minutes south of Jackson. According to officials from FHU, all the students from Southeast Missouri are fine.