By MIKE WEST
In wake of the recent storms that ripped through Cannon and surrounding counties the last few week, I can't help but recall the so-called Super Outbreak of April 1974.
That series of storms, which occurrred 43 years ago, stands as the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded in the United States. From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 U.S. states. Twisters were reported in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. At one point, as many as 15 separate tornadoes were ongoing at the same time.
The 1974 Super Outbreak remains one of the most outstanding severe convective weather episodes of record in the continental United States. Hardest hit was Xenia, Ohio, with much of the town destroyed and 32 people killed.
These storms are particularly memorable to me because they destroyed the home of my aunt and uncle, Jack and Ruth Pugh near Gassaway. I will never forget how their farm looked after the storm and how strangers rallied to help them rebuild.
Here's report from the April 11 edition of the Cannon Courier:
Several small tornadoes accompanied by torrential rains ripped a path of destruction through Cannon County early Wednesday night, April 3 leaving damage to many farms and homes.
Mrs. Buster Chapman was killed when the tornado struck her mobile home in the Sycamore community. The Chapman children, Sandra and David, were rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital and later transferred to Rutherford Hospital after receiving numerous injuries in the storm. The Chapman home was completely destroyed.
Electric power in some sections of the county was interrupted due to falling trees and limbs.
Maintenance crews for Middle Tennessee Electric Corp. and DeKalb Telephone Corp. were busy Thursday, restoring power and phones to many homes.
Destruction covered a wide area in the county. In the West Side community, the barns of Johnny Sauls and Mrs. Tommy Moore were destroyed.
Hardest hit section of the county was the Gassaway community. Roofs were blown off many homes and barns. Trees were uprooted and shredded by the high winds. Cars and trucks were overturned and received heavy damage.
The home and contents of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Pugh, just outside Gassaway was completely destroyed. As the tornado swept across the Pugh farm a barn and upright silo were also destroyed. A truck parked near the silo received heavy damage along with other farm machinery. Bales of hay were scattered over a wide section of the farm. The Pugh family escaped serious injury by taking shelter in a storm cellar. Various reports indicate that two tornadoes struck the farm.
The tornado then moved into the Dowelltown community of DeKalb County where extensive damage was reported to many homes and businesses.