By Victor Parkins,
The community of Skullbone was hit hard March 2 when a F-1 tornado touched down and destroyed homes, barns, grain bins and hundreds of trees.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that seven tornadoes ripped through different parts of Tennessee late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Although no one was seriously injured in Gibson County, the storm left 25 dead across the state, mostly in middle Tennessee.
David and Phyllis Dudley were sound asleep when winds that reached 95 miles an hour hit their home in Skullbone.
“We went to bed around 9:30,” said Phyllis Dudley. “We didn’t hear any sirens, so we weren’t really concerned about it. All of the sudden we started hearing glass breaking, and we could feel the suction pulling us. I thought David was pulling on me, but it was the suction.”
The couple grabbed their daughter, Madeline, and took cover in a bathroom until the storm subsided.
“We’re ok, but it was very scary,” added Ms. Dudley. “From the time we heard glass breaking until the time it was over seemed like 10 minutes. The pressure in the house was so strong, we felt dizzy. It sucked one of our curtains through a door and almost pulled out the entire door.
The Dudley’s home sustained serious damage, but the foundation was unharmed. The storm totaled their roof, one side of their garage, and leveled their shop. Their cars were dinged up by debris, and their 10-year-old dog, Sally, was missing until the next day.
“Sally sleeps on the patio, and we couldn’t find her,” Ms. Dudley added. “We found her Tuesday about 100 feet from where she sleeps and took her to the vet. Her temperature was really low, and she has some cuts and gashes. We’re not sure if she’ll make it or not.”
Across the road, Dustin McCartney owns a house trailer and seven grain bins. The house trailer was vacant but totally destroyed. All of McCartney’s grain bins were demolished.
James and Michelle Mullikin live just down the road from the Dudley’s home. Their newly remodeled home was totally destroyed by the tornado.
“I was in bed, but my husband was still up watching TV,” said Michelle Mulliken. “I had just said my prayers and heard the rain coming down. I wear a C-Pap to sleep, and it lost power about 10:10 p.m. I woke up but couldn’t move so I yelled for James. It was dark, and I couldn’t see and I couldn’t find my glasses. I knew something was on me and later found out it was the ceiling and roof.”
Ms. Mullikin said the vacuum in her house was so great they couldn’t open their bedroom door. By the time they reached their safe spot in the home, the storm was over.
“Most of our ceiling and roof was gone,” she added. “But we feel truly blessed because it could have been a completely different outcome. There were huge beams that fell and electric wires dangling everywhere. We’re sore and bruised up, but we have no cuts or broken bones.”
After 25 years living in the home that was crushed, the Mullikins plan to rebuild somewhere in the Skullbone community.
Ms. Mulliken works for Lifeline Blood Center, and her husband works for the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.
“We had a huge network of people out here helping us get trees off our cars and out of our driveway,” she said. “People from work, our neighbors, people from the Vineyard Church and the Orchard House came to help us. We lost a lot of things but nothing that can’t be replaced. It certainly makes you look at things with a different perspective.”
Ms. Dudly echoed her neighbor’s remarks.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” she said. “Right now I’m just glad we’re all alive.”
Representative Curtis Halford of Dyer was sleeping soundly in his apartment near the State Capitol in Nashville when the tornado hit. Halford said he stays about three or four blocks from East Nashville, a community that was decimated.
Halford said his apartment is on the lower floors of the building and his windows face away from the path the tornado took.
“I slept through the whole thing,” Halford said.
In the morning, he received a text from his staff assistant saying she couldn’t get to the office from her home in Hermitage. Halford went to work for a 7:30 a.m. meeting and said he was one of only about a half-dozen people in the usually buzzing building.
“It’s been a pretty different day,” Halford said Tuesday afternoon.
Halford said that while Wednesday would be a normal day for legislators, it would be anything but normal for thousands of people in Nashville, nearby Putnam County, and across the state.
“It’s really sad,” Halford said.
His wife Charlotte was keeping him apprised of any damage at home in Gibson County. Halford also serves a portion of Carroll County in District 79. He understood there was some damage in both counties but was thankful there were no fatalities.