As County Mayor Shelvy Linville stood surrounded by memories in the vacant lot between Akersville and Williams Road, he recalled a night four years ago, when heavy clouds raced across the sky bringing with them a deadly cyclone that left a print on our hearts forever.New homes have been built and traces of the storm disappear more every year, but the voices of the lost still echo across the hills and valleys of Macon County after Mother Nature violently intruded upon our peaceful countryside on February 5th, 2008.
On the four-year anniversary of that tragic Tuesday when a massive twister touched down and claimed fourteen of our own, Mayor Linville would like to speak to the community.
“I will never forget that devastating Tuesday night of February 5th, 2008, and the days, weeks and months that followed,” said Mayor Linville on Saturday morning. “I have many memories of this period in time forever etched in my mind. Immediately following the tornado I went outside to see the destruction around my house and realized this was going to be bad, but still not realizing just how bad. Then I went to the EMS building, which would serve as our headquarters for the next several days.”
“Upon arriving, I remember asking someone what they had heard and I recall them saying they had already heard of one fatality. I asked who, and Jimmy Shaw was the answer. Jimmy was a very good friend of mine and at that point I realized just how cruelly tested we were all going to be.
“As dawn broke on Wednesday morning, you could quickly see that Mother Nature had dealt our community the worst natural disaster imaginable. Flying over the county with Governor Bredesen and seeing the destruction as we followed the path of the tornado was unbelievable. I remember how amazed we all were that this twister had stayed on the ground for the entire time as it traveled across our county. Television and radio stations rushed to Macon County. CNN broadcast live on Thursday morning from the ravaged subdivision near the golf course. President George W. Bush came to our county on Friday, February 8th and I still remember my one on one conversation with the president of our country. I believe I gained his respect when I said to him ‘Mr. President, you are going to be here for a short time and then you will be gone but we will still be here. We have a lot of people suffering, we have a lot of people that have lost everything they own and we need help. So please don’t leave and forget about us.’ He immediately hollered for the head of FEMA and asked me to go tour the Akersville Road area with them as well.
“However, of all my memories, the one that I am most proud of is the way our community pulled together. The citizens of this area responded in a manner in which we can all be proud. The first responders performed courageously. The Macon County Sheriffs Department, Lafayette Police Department, Macon County EMS, the Rescue Squads, fire department personnel, road crews, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tri County Electric, NCTC, and the National Guard were all absolutely remarkable in their unrelenting effort to aid the people of Macon County. I was extremely proud to have the privilege to represent you as your county mayor.
“And let’s never forget how blessed we were with support from thousands of individuals from other counties and states who volunteered their time and money to help tornado victims. Many clubs, organizations, and area churches also stepped up offering their assistance. We had friends helping friends, neighbors helping neighbors, and even strangers helping neighbors and eventually becoming friends. This was a time when much love was shown just like God wants it to be. Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived like this all the time.
“Macon County has come a long way since the tornado but let’s never forget what happened that fateful night of February 5th, 2008, and those who perished.”