The weather has been up and down throughout the mid-state recently. However, 20 years ago, it was a lot worse.

That was April 16, 1998, when 13 tornadoes ripped through Middle Tennessee, including an F3 tornado that destroyed parts of downtown and East Nashville.

20 years ago, I was a lot younger, a lot dumber, but maybe a bit more brave. So when we got news that there were passing through middle Tennessee, i stepped outside the news station in hopes that I would see it. When the sky turned a green color that I had never seen before, I decided it was time to get back inside.

"The Union Station Hotel had been hit and it had blown the walls off the top of that building and they were laying in the middle of Broadway," said Scott Harris with the Nashville Office of Emergency Management. "There was an 'uh-oh' moment."

Uh-Oh was right. Harris saw the damage when the sun came up, and heard from the people who went thru it.

"We were in the house, the tornado came right over us," said a young girl the day after the tornado. When asked if she was scared, she replied, "No I just cried and prayed to Jesus."

Holes blew out downtown windows, creating glass-free views. Thirty-five buildings destroyed, and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed in East Nashville. The damage added up to more than $100 million.

The State Flag above the Capitol survived, but it's middle was gone.

To this day at emergency management, they maintain the only good news from the '98 tornadoes was when they hit.

"You take that storm at a different time -- put it in the middle of the night, when people were asleep in their homes in Nashville -- it would have been far worse," Harris said.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Feature Reporter

Terry Bulger has been bringing you stories of the people and places that make Tennessee unique and interesting on News4 since 1990.

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