Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jan. 3rd, 2000 Tornado Anniversary

Ten years ago today January 3th, 2000, at about 3:08 P.M. the tornado struck our little community and almost wiped it off the map.  Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, but mentally it was devastating.

The day had been unusually warm and humid for the winter month of January.  I was at work at the Board of Education Office.  Dr. Lacy, our Superintendent, had been watching the skies and weather forecast . As the skies darkened and turned a greenish color he told all the employees to get in the hallway of the office.  The buses had already started out on their afternoon routes to deliver the students home.  The short wave radio's were going full blast as everyone was trying to report their status.  The buses on Highway 641 and all routes leading into Crayne were halted.  No one could get into the town.  All ways of entry were cut off by fallen trees.  This was every way, North, South, East and West, all roads were impassable.

I still didn't know for sure what had happened.  I called my Mom, Evah Lee Travis, and thankfully the phones were still working.  She was in tears and scared to death, she told me "we've had a tornado."  She was unharmed, just scared and frightened.  I tried to get into the town through the Chapel Hill Road, but it was blocked by large fallen trees, I got close enough to where I could walk in, or I ran in , as I was really frightened by now, for I was unprepared for what I was going to see.  Never had I seen such destruction to our little town.  I came in on the North side, close to James Robert Dorroh's house, it had been badly damaged by the roof being partially blowed off and his large trees uprooted and on the house.

(This is a picture of his house after a few days later.  The tree had been cut and you can see the base of it on the bottom left.)

As I went on through the center of town,  there was parts of buildings, trailers, blown everywhere, insulation from the trailers had put a pink stuffing on everything.  Electricity was out, wires were down everywhere,you had to watch where you walked as not to step or trip on them. Fallen trees and limbs lined the highway.

I finally got to our house.  Thankfully my Mom and our home were alright.  There were some roofing shingles blown off, the air conditioner unit had been moved off it's base, and some damage to the vinyl siding.  But no windows were broken out and the roof was all intack.  We were very fortunate, alot more so that other folks.
The residents of Crayne were out and going around trying to check on their neighbors and friends, everyone was worried about everyone, the yards were full of standing water and debris caused by the storm.

The clean-up went on for weeks and months and all through the year, and into the next year and beyond. Most all the ancient sugar maple trees that had so beautifully lined the highway of Crayne were gone.  The storm had damaged the old  Crayne school house and the little block school room and they had to taken down.  The Crayne US Presbyterian Church was damaged and was said to be  unsafe to use.  Many tears and much heartache was caused by this.  Finally it was torn down and a new one built in it's place.

The tree root in the picture at the right was in front of Pam and Roger Tinsley house across from the Crayne Post Office. 

Things in Crayne were never the same after that Jan. 3rd, 2000.  Although the people and friends all worked and got things cleaned up, it was just such an emotional trial for everyone.  My Mom never fully recovered from the emotional effect it had on her, and probably others had been effected the same.  That June there was no annual Crayne Day, something else that was hurting to the community.  Although there have been other Crayne Day's since then, the heart of the community has never been into it like it was before the storm.

Many of the old time residents are gone today and a few new families have moved in.  But we still have our  familiar Crayne Presbyterian Church and our same post office and our friendly postmistress.  So that it good.

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