Editor’s Note: This is a special republication of our 10-year anniversary edition of the 1999 tornado titled “Celebrating Restoration.”
A personal account by Jasmine Jones
I was a freshman living in Sevier Hall when the tornado hit campus in 1999. My friends and I had just returned from a basketball game at UT Martin. They thought the bad weather was heading there, so we tried to get home as fast as we could to avoid it.
About 4:15 a.m. we started hearing several voices in the hallway. When we opened our door my RA was yelling, “Get downstairs! Get downstairs!” We really didn’t know what was going on, so we just did as we were told.
A group of us were sitting in the lobby watching the weather report when the front door blew open and one of the campus policewomen was flying from the hinge. Well, of course, this scared us to death and we all ran into the hallway.
I could hear the rumbling and then we heard glass from the stairwell windows blowing out.
Just as soon as we thought it was over, the girls from Blount Hall were brought over and we were told to take cover again because another one was heading our way.
About 7 a.m. that morning Joe Mills came in to give us a report of what had taken place. I
think everyone’s mouths dropped when he told us about the damage. I think the
most memorable thing is when he told us that the little Ag bus that was located behind the old
UC had flown over Blount and landed in the trees behind Marks.
We were then informed to get dressed and head to the Dunn Center. I remember walking out of Sevier and thinking I had entered a war zone. I couldn’t believe the damage that I saw to our beautiful campus.
All of the big trees that used to surround the walkways were uprooted. Harned was completely gutted and the top of Browning was sitting in one of the Bowls. People’s cars were sitting on top of one another. But, I think the most heartbreaking sight was when we looked over and saw Harvill’s roof completely gone and knowing that there were students in there.
Luckily, no one was injured that day. When we were finally able to use the phone I called home and my mom informed me that my house had been like a telephone
switchboard all morning. She had been awakened around 5 a.m. by my aunt in Nashville asking how I was doing. Of course she had no idea that the campus had been hit until that phone call.
Being the “Daddy’s girl” that I am, my dad told me to go pack a bag and he was coming to get me! Needless to say, that is a day that I will never be able to get out of my mind