EF 3 Tornado Damage & 96 Short Days Later

Chris Stites, Safety Engineer, Safety Engineering Consulting & Claims Management

December, 2014

Lincoln County Tornado Damage

South Lincoln Elementary School in Lincoln County sustained major damage during Monday’s storms. (Photo by Paul Henry, Elk Valley Times)

On April 28, 2014 an EF 3 tornado containing at least 136 mph winds hit South Lincoln Elementary School in southern Lincoln County, TN. Fortunately no lives were lost inside the school; however, the community did lose two friends due to the ferocity of the storm. Over 75% of the school was a total loss.

A school and community were brought to its knees in the wake of the storm. The community picked itself up, dusted itself off, and began rebuilding – that long, arduous process culminated Saturday November 8 in the rededication of South Lincoln Elementary School.

“Being a Superintendent can be lonely work. We are expected to run a business while making sure that we have great teachers and staff teaching our children all the skills they need to become productive citizens. It is a big job, but on April 28, 2014 when an EF 3 tornado hit South Lincoln Elementary School in southern Lincoln County, my work expanded to include recovery, restore, and rebuild. Once we learned that no lives were lost in our building, hearing that over 75% of the school was a total loss was emotionally manageable. In the dark, alone, listening to tornado sirens go off, one the first calls I made was to TNRMT. From the first moment I realized the school had taken a direct hit, until the re-dedication of the building on November 8, 2014 Tennessee Risk Management, John Wilburn and Phillip Wallace were there to make sure that our student’s needs were met. We were able to recover our sense of hope because from day one Belfor was there to help our staff. We were able to restore our building to its former glory in only 96 days and return to school with only a one week delay in mid-August. And we were able to rebuild not just our building, but our belief in miracles because it took a miracle to make this all happen. So to TNRMT, to John Wilburn, John Evans, to Phillip Wallace and Tom Montgomery I say thank you. Thank you for sending me folks like Russ Daly with Belfor and all the men and women who treated my school like it was their school. I can be a cheerleader for TNRMT because all of the people we worked with shared my resolve to get it right for our community and for our students. I never want this to happen to any school in any state, but if it does, I hope they will be as fortunate as I was to have a good staff and good support from organizations like TNRMT.” - Wanda Shelton Director, Lincoln County Schools

For TNRMT, this Lincoln County experience is just the most recent disaster in which TNRMT was able to quickly respond to the needs of our member and the community. We at TNRMT take our responsibility to our members very seriously, and we take pride in our record of responding to all events with expedience and fairness. Since our inception in 1987, we've handled numerous events similar to this. As a member, you can rest easy knowing that our experience will serve you in your time of need.

Lincoln County Rededication

From Left to Right: John Wilburn, Former TNRMT Administrator
Harrold Henderson, Senior Claims Representative, TNRMT
Dr. Phillip Wallace, TNRMT Administrator
Dr. Wanda Shelton, Director, Lincoln County Schools
Tom Montgomery, Vice President, SEC
Russ Daily, Befor Services
Mark Bilyeu, Loss Control, SEC