Super Tuesday Twisters: "We had a beautiful neighborhood, now it's Hell!"

A funnel cloud of the tornado that touched down in Atkins, Ark., is seen at about 5 p.m. Feb. 5, 2008. The photo was taken outside Atkins High School. Tornadoes across four Southern states tore through homes, ripped the roof off a shopping mall and blew apart warehouses in a rare spasm of violent winter weather. (Photo: AP Photo/The Courier, Mike Avery)

HARTSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- "We had a beautiful neighborhood, now it's hell," said 80-year-old Bonnie Brawner.

She and her husband, Frank, live about 200 yards from a natural gas station that exploded Tuesday night, likely the result of a direct hit from a tornado.

The storm completely sheared the second story off their home and partially caved in the ceiling over the first floor.

Their 70-year-old neighbor, Linnie Gillihan, said she felt the heat from the fire when she stepped outside her damaged home.

"I saw this incredible blaze," she told WSMV-TV in Nashville.

Even five miles away, Ashley Beff saw the flames that shot hundreds of feet into the air.

"It was God awful," she said of the explosion that shook her windows. "The city looked like it was on fire."


HARTSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Nova and Ray story weathered the storm in their home and then went out to look for Ray Story's brother, Bill Clark, who lived in a nearby mobile home.

The trailer was completely destroyed and turned upside-down but the 70-year-old was still alive when they pulled him from the wreckage.

They put him in their pickup truck and drove him to a local hospital, with neighbors helping to clear the way by pulling debris from the road.

Clark died in the back of the truck.

"He never had a chance," Nova Story said. "I looked him right in the eye and he died right there in front of me."

"He knew he was going to die when we put him in the pickup truck," Ray Story said.


CASTALIAN SPRINGS, Tenn. (AP) -- Susan Hesson was sobbing as she sat next to a parked police car on a highway east of Castalian Springs. Her 86-year-old stepfather, Clarence Scott, died in the storm and her 84-year-old mother, Christine, was missing, she said.

"I'm just in shock," she told The Tennessean. She was unable to talk further.


SAVANNAH, Tenn. (AP) -- "It hit hard in our area," said Allen Guyer, the music minister at Sharon Baptist Church. "The church building was destroyed and we have a Christian school and preschool too -- all of that is completely gone."

"Some church members lost their homes, some went to the hospital; but everybody is all right."


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- "The wind was blowin' and it was just everywhere," said Wallie Wright, a security guard at Hickory Ridge Mall. "It came so quick. We stood at the door for a minute and we heard it whistling. And it hit so hard -- 'Bam!"

Her supervisor hurried into the office where she was, she said.

"He grabbed me and he said, 'Let's go! Let's go, now!' ... I mean it came so fast, we didn't have time to think about nothing."

"He drug me around to the hall. That's why, probably, I'm still alive."

"I'm just thankful. I'm thankful," she told WHBQ-TV in Memphis. "The car is torn up, but I'm blessed to be here."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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