Tornado rips through White County

Posted By | March 29, 2011 12:00 am

Relatives of Benny and Geraldine Ancar survey what remains of the couple’s belongings after their trailer was ripped completely off the foundation during the March 23, 2011, tornado that affected several residents of White County. The Ancars live in the western portion of the county, on Will Thompson Road.

No injuries were reported when a tornado made its way across the western portion of White County, on Mar. 23, flattening one residence and causing damage to several other homes, structures and property.
According to White County Emergency Management Agency Director Jimmy Savage, the tornado affected a nine-mile stretch of the county from the White/DeKalb county line to Iris Drive, which is located one block west of McMinnville Highway, near JELD-WEN Millwork Manufacturing.
The tornado, which was listed by the National Weather Service as an F-2 with 113 to 157 mile per hour winds, is estimated to have been 100 to 125 feet wide and affected 26 residences.
Savage stated most of the major damage began in the Cassville community.
Of the 26 homes affected, 15 had major damage, including three that were total losses with three others that are possibly total losses. Eleven homes had minor damage, such as losing shingles, siding or trim.
At approximately 6:55 p.m. on the night of the storm, a tornado warning was issued, putting all White County and Sparta emergency personnel on alert and setting off tornado sirens in Sparta’s city limits.
In less than 10 minutes, personnel with White County Emergency Medical Services advised E-911 dispatchers a tornado was spotted on the ground near Highway 70 west, close to the intersection of Highway 136, also known as O.T. Jones Crossroads.
Additional EMS personnel also advised a tornado was seen in the area of Gum Springs Mountain Rd.
Emergency responders from all across the county made their way to the area and began searching every road, including going house to house, to look for damage or victims.
A command post was set up at O.T. Jones Crossroads, while strong winds and heavy rain continued, hampering visibility and leaving huge amounts of water on roadways.
In addition to White County EMS, emergency personnel with White County Sheriff Department, Sparta-White County Rescue Squad, all 10 fire districts, CVEST (which stands for Community Volunteer Emergency Services Team), and White County Emergency Management Agency responded to the scene.
As the storm began to subside, searchers found a mobile home that was approximately a quarter mile south of Cassville Elementary School, on Will Thompson Road, which had been sucked into the air, ripped apart, and strewn across a field.
The homeowners, Ben and Geraldine Ancar, were attending church when the storm hit and were not injured when their home was destroyed.
A residence across the street, reportedly belonging to some of Ancar’s relatives, is also considered a total loss.
Other nearby homes and structures, including Plainview Freewill Baptist Church, were also damaged.
As the tornado continued traveling east, a barn and silo on Old Kentucky Road were destroyed.
When the storm passed, neighbor began going out to assist neighbors, as emergency workers made their way into the affected areas.
Trees and utility poles were sheared off, creating more hazards for residents and emergency personnel as debris and live electric wires lay across roadways and upon rain-soaked ground.
Several other residences and structures approximately two and one third miles from the Will Thompson residences, were affected, including a residence on Randerson Lane, which Savage said might be considered a total loss.
Another basement residence on Gum Spring Mountain Road is the third structure considered to be a total loss from the tornado.
Savage additionally stated 13 outbuildings, three trucks, one pontoon boat and one tractor were also damaged in the storm.
Emergency personnel continued into the night, searching for damage and victims, as well as clearing trees and debris out of roadways that had become clogged in the area.
Personnel with Caney Fork Electric Cooperative worked initially to cut power to damaged structures to prevent fire and electrocution hazards, as well as worked to restore electricity to approximately 4,000 residents.
According to Caney Fork Electric District Manager Kenny Crouch, the majority of residents had power restored by 4 a.m., on Mar. 24, and crews were able to complete ‘finish work’ in the area by the morning of Mar. 25.
Savage said all victims of the tornado have been relocated with the help of family, friends, neighbors and CVEST.
Additional offers for assistance were provided from emergency services in DeKalb, Putnam and Overton counties.
He wished to thank all the emergency responders, as well as the citizens, who put their lives aside to rush to the aid of their community.
“This is a great place to live and something like this just shows how great the people are, too,” stated Savage.

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