Bill Hudgins sends this from Gallatin

Bill Hudgins sends this from Gallatin: From Hammock Publishing senior editor Bill Hudgins, (Hudge on this blog) who lives in Gallatin, Tenn., the community north of Nashville that was one of the most affected by a series of killer tornados that moved through the middle Tennessee area:

Since I don’t have a blog of my own, i will camp out here for a bit. As this blog noted earlier, after a tense hour and a half or so Friday afternoon, my wife Wilda in Gallatin was able to get safely home and find that it was not touched. Our hometown got pounded, though, with a number of friends! within less than a half mile losing homes. A cousin of my wife’s lost her 100 year old home and almost her life – she and her husband and a visiting friend leaped into the basement just seconds before the wind took off the roof and most of the top two stories of their home. We are not sure who died in the storm as of Saturday evening – people have been calling and emailing to say we are on the news, but cable is out and we didn’t have rabbit ears. We do now – one of the last few sets in the local Wal-Mart.

After the storm passed, authorities closed all the roads into Gallatin, since damage had occurred on all of them, and I was not able to get home until later in the evening. As I crawled past the local community college and two car dealerships across from it, i saw these odd blocky bulky things lying on the side of the road. They were autos, picked up, hammered, flipped and dropped randomly. Our power was out for about 14 hours, coming on around 4 a.m., then flickering on and off throughout the day.

One couple in the smashed subdivision were marrying off their elder daughter today – most of the family were in the house when the twister came through, literally blowing out the windows and tilting the house. The groom and the husband of the couple’s other daughter were golfing, saw the funnel and the husband called his wife. He said later he could hear glass shattering and the sounds of frightened people ranging from their early 20s to their 80s pushing into the basement. Their home will be a total loss, but they held the wedding. The reception was at a country club close to that Ground Zero, which had no power but managed to serve a buffet luncheon that was as fine as anythiing you could find anywhere.

Poilce have imposed a dusk-dawn curfew in the shattered neighborhoods, so we have not been able to see the damage there firsthand. As near as we can figure, the storm jumped over the back of our property, which is deep because it includes some fields, and landed to the south and east of us, then leaped again a mile or so and struck a major intersetion. The Tennesseean front page Saturday showed a big rig resting on top of a car at the intersection. I received an email from a client contact here in Gallatin, who is building a home in the affected area. Their house is ok, but her photos showed some of the devastation.

I don’t have photos to post, but the local MSN outlets have plenty. I keep getting photos from other folks, so maybe I should get a Flicka account and post them all there. If so will blog again.

Let me say that Rex and all my colleagues were so incredibly supportive during that long wait on Friday. I heard from several today, as well, following up on us to see how we were doing. That was one of the longest afternoons of my life, and it was good to be with my extended family and second home.

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