By Nick Austin, Meteorologist / Reporter - bio | email
BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- The tornado outbreak that hit the Tennessee Valley April 27th, was the most severe in more than 35 years.
Within 16 hours on April 3, 1974, 148 tornadoes touched down in more than a dozen states. 330 people were killed.
The storms that ravaged the southeast last month spawned more than 300 tornadoes and nearly 330 deaths across several states.
A family's property in Bradley County was struck by one of those 1974 tornadoes and then again by the deadly storms last month.
The Andersons have survived against the odds. One generation of the family lived through the 1974 tornado as it blew by their home. The most recent generation to live here, different house, but same piece of land, was struck twice on April 27th.
They're very thankful to be alive.
"Tragic!" says Jamie Anderson.
That's the word that came to mind when Anderson looked at the destruction to his home and others in Bradley County after the April 27th tornadoes.
The home where he and his wife Brandy live in Charleston has been in Brandy's family for forty years. Her grandparents lived here for decades before she and Jamie moved in about five years ago.
The house is newer and in a different spot from years ago, but tornadoes in the Tennessee Valley didn't care. They've struck the home three times.
"The '74 tornado actually crossed the north part of the property and then both of these [on April 27th], the six o'clock storm and then the nine o'clock storm, got two different areas," said Jamie.
He tried to drive home after the first tornado, but too many obstacles got in the way.
"I tried to make it home and all the roads were blocked either by police or trees," said Jamie.
His arrival would have to wait. Meanwhile, Brandy and the Anderson's five year old daughter Emily took cover again when they caught wind of the second tornado's approach.
"They actually went in the storm shelter," explained Jamie.
A shelter which was built after the 1974 storm. The situation, though, got worse.
"A tree fell on the storm shelter and trapped them in it," said Jamie.
They eventually escaped with the help of other family members. It was an experience young Emily won't soon forget.
"It was so scary, but everything just happened really fast," said Emily. "We're not actually scared when rain comes, but we're scared of tornadoes."
Jamie finally arrived home at 11 o'clock the night of April 27th after walking the last mile in rain. He was thankful to find his family was safe.
He and his father-in-law continue to repair the roof and other structural damage to the house. They have about three to four more weeks left of labor, working on it five to six hours a day before Jamie goes to his night job. The Anderson's will take a loss out of their wallets as opposed to losing each other.
"Nothin' that money can't replace," said Jamie.
Like so many other recovery stories we hear, the Andersons received help from people they barely knew.
A local church donated wood planks to complete repairs to the Anderson's roof and folks from all over helped clear trees
Jamie Anderson says it will probably take another three to four weeks for he and his father-in-law to finish repairing the home.