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  • Writer's pictureMaria Sameer

Mount Juliet Tornado Devastation: Nearly 3 Years Later

Updated: May 12, 2023

West Wilson Middle School hours after being destroyed by a severe tornado. Photo by Emily Weatherford

On March 3, 2020, a severe tornado ravaged Middle Tennessee at around midnight, leading to the devastating loss of 25 lives.

In Wilson County alone, 3 people were killed due to the force of the natural disaster. Those lost include: Donna and James Eaton, a couple who had been married for 58 years, passed away together in bed, and Brandy Barker, a security guard, who died while on duty.

A ceremony, operated by city officials and the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Town Center Clock Tower to honor the devastating losses.

Many houses were destroyed in the process, along with West Wilson Middle School. Two MJHS students, Emily Weatherford ('24) and Abbie Scoby ('24), have spoken up about their experiences.

“It affected me because it shortened eighth grade and it was scary to drive next to the building I was standing in a few days prior. After that, Covid-19 happened and I realized I would never return to that school ever again. A couple days later, we were supposed to have a band competition but that got cut short. Now, I am no longer in the band due to me losing interest,” Emily Weatherford stated.
Abbie voiced, “I was in eighth grade at the time and watching The Bachelor with my family when we got the alarm. We waited until morning in the bathroom till it passed. The tornado was only 1/4 mile away from my house and we could feel the walls shake. When we looked outside, we saw that half of our trees had fallen but thankfully none of our house was hit. We got the message that my track coach’s house had been flattened. So we all hopped in the car to help pick up the house. It was honestly very emotional to see this person's life in pieces on the ground. As we picked up the rubble I saw photo albums, wedding photos, and first-day-of-school photos. It took about a week to pick up the majority of items because there were many people to help. It felt as if we all came together, closer as a community after the tornado hit because everyone was so eager to help.”

Although the community experienced a heart-wrenching natural disaster, it allowed them to come together to figure out solutions, such as fixing up houses and providing help to those that experienced losses.

Schools shut down following the tornado and stayed closed for months due to the spread of Covid-19.

Due to West Wilson Middle School being torn down, middle schoolers eventually migrated to local high schools once they were opened back up; this was started the following 2020-2021 school year, which was hybrid. This led to a very packed environment, which was not ideal.

Today, West Wilson Middle Schoolers have still had to settle at Mount Juliet High School due to their school not being rebuilt three years later.

Given the circumstances, this incident has left an impression on Tennessee in its entirety and continues to do so.

The remains of West Wilson Middle School today. Photo by Maria Sameer.
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