A personal account of Holli Houston | 1999 sophomore

Pictured: Holli Houston

I was a student at APSU and later went on to become the Editor-in-Chief of The All State when the tornado hit. I had just moved to Tennessee from Oregon that academic year.

Oregon does not get tornados. At least, at that point, it hadn’t had one during my lifetime, and my only “real” experience with tornados was what I saw in the “Wizard of Oz.”

We didn’t get earthquakes or hurricanes. When the alarms went off, I went into the bathroom of my dorm room in Killebrew with one other girl, and we hid in the shower.

When it was clear the tornado had moved past, it was about 4 a.m., and I had no idea the kind of destruction that could have been caused. So, naturally, I went back to bed and slept a few more hours.

When I got up and walked outside, I could not believe what I saw. The destruction was everywhere from cars clearly have been blown about, to roofs coming off buildings; to tiny birds, lying dead on the ground, having been battered cruelly to the ground.

I was in total shock.

Campus closed, and we all had to leave. But, I was from Oregon. Where was I to go? I remember the school found housing for us at one of the hotels out by the interstate on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard.

They put four students in each room. We had nothing.

I don’t remember how or what we ate, but I remember having to go to Walmart to buy basic supplies like underwear and a toothbrush. I don’t remember how long we were in that hotel — I want to say two weeks, but that might be inaccurate — it is all a bit fuzzy.

I had never been afraid of storms until that day. Now, I hate them.