Tornado damage in the Blackman community in Murfreesboro on April 10, 2009. (Photo Courtesy: Former WVLT-TV producer Ryan Locker)
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - A tornado killed a woman and her
9-week-old infant and also injured dozens Friday in central
Tennessee as a line of storms lifted homes, ripped off roofs and
dumped hail in the Southeast.
Elsewhere, a tornado touched down in southwestern Kentucky,
injuring two people and destroying homes. A possible tornado was
reported in northeast Alabama. And large hail fell in North
At least 41 people were hurt in Rutherford County, Tenn., four
of them critically, in the aftermath of a storm system that killed
three in western Arkansas a day earlier.
"I think we're right in the middle of tornado alley these
days," said Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's
Dispatchers at the Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency
said the area was "heavily impacted" after several eyewitness
reports of a tornado on the ground around 12:30 p.m.
In Murfreesboro, 30 miles southeast of Nashville, at least three
dozen homes were destroyed. Roofs were ripped away from at least a
dozen homes, and some trees were blown down. A bulldozer was
clearing tree limbs and other debris from streets.
Kori Bryant, in her mid-20s, and 9-week-old Olivia Bryant were
identified as the dead. They apparently were trying to get in a car
- both were found outside, and the infant was in a car seat, rescue
official Randy White said.
Andrew Piro, 23, who was on his way to work when the tornado
struck, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel he came upon a man who
said his brother's wife and child were missing.
"Outside under the rubble, we found the wife," Piro said.
"She was right beside the driveway, about 20 feet away from the
house. She was under a bunch of wood, I guess part of the roof. We
found the baby strapped into a car seat, about another 20 feet away
under a tree. It broke my heart."
Amy Jones, 32, was at work at State Farm Insurance when she
heard that her house had been leveled. She was stunned when she got
to the scene and saw that the 1,800-square-foot home with a garage
was lifted completely off the foundation and dropped on her
"My house is on top of someone else's house. It's surreal,"
Joe Spencer, 23, a student at Middle Tennessee State University,
said he had only moments to react but survived a direct hit on his
"I was going to open the door to see what was going on and I
looked straight at a tornado," Spencer said.
He yelled at his brother to take shelter in one of the home's
bathrooms and then ran to the other, jumping into the bathtub while
holding his dog, LLoyd.
"The bathtub started shaking, and I just tried to grab ahold to
anything I could. I grabbed the nozzle and turned on the water,"
Spencer said. Hours later, he was still wet up to his knees.
Spencer, his brother and dog were shaken but uninjured. Outside,
the storm's power was apparent. The roof over the living room of
the house was gone and the rest of the roof was caved in.
Friday afternoon, search teams fanned out across Murfreesboro, a
city of about 100,500, looking for anyone trapped in homes. Clyde
Atkinson, spokesman for the Murfreesboro Police Department, said he
believes there were three to five touchdowns mostly in the northern
and western parts of the city.
Several homes were emblazoned with a spray-painted "c,"
indicating emergency crews had checked them.
Gov. Phil Bredesen, Deputy Gov. John Morgan, U.S. Rep. Bart
Gordon, D-Tenn., and other officials are scheduled to tour the
affected areas Saturday in Rutherford County by helicopter and on
In Kentucky, State Trooper Stu Recke said one person suffered a
broken hip and leg while the other suffered a broken ankle. Both
were taken to a hospital for treatment, Recke said.
One of the homes destroyed belonged to Robert Huggins, 65, who
said he, his son and two other men were working in his garage when
the tornado hit. When the storm passed, his 2,500-square-foot home
"We heard it coming," Huggins said. "We went to the garage
door and it got louder and louder. It was like a freight train like
His daughter-in-law, who was inside the home, was thrown about
70 feet and was taken to the hospital. He said his 10-year-old
grandson, who was also in the home, suffered only bruises.
Several possible tornadoes were reported in north Georgia as
heavy rain, hail and winds downed trees and power lines. Flights
were delayed for up to 90 minutes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport as dark gray clouds swirled in from the west.
On Thursday night, a black funnel cloud packing winds of at
least 136 mph descended on the western Arkansas hamlet of Mena,
killing at least three, injuring 30 and destroying or damaging 600
Polk County, Ark., Sheriff Mike Oglesby said search-and-rescue
teams had combed through the city's downtown Friday and a
neighborhood just west that sustained the brunt of the storm
without finding any other victims. The sheriff said he had no
reports of anyone else missing in the city of 5,700 in the Ouachita
Associated Press writers Kristin M. Hall in Murfreesboro and
Lucas L. Johnson II in Mannington, Ky., contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)