Newbern, TN Tornado Devestation, Apr 2006
DYER CO. 'LOOKS ... LIKE A WAR ZONE'.
Newbern - A tornado that appeared to some to be a mile wide roared through northern Dyer County late Sunday night, leaving 15 people dead and dozens injured along a 10-mile wide path from the Mississippi River to east of this city, authorities said.
They were still looking Monday evening for an elderly woman in the Millsfield community, north of Dyersburg, Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Holt said.
"When these homes were blown apart, the victims were blown with them," Holt said, adding some of the dead were found a distance from where their homes had stood.
The Dyersburg Regional Medical Center reported treating 40 to 60 injured residents, Holt said. About 1,500 to 1,800 were without power earlier Monday.
Damages to homes and buildings totaled about 100 structures, Holt said. He did not know how many of those had been completely destroyed.
Holt toured the area from above at about 10:30 a.m. Monday in a military helicopter. Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill and a Tennessee Emergency Management Agency director joined him.
"It looks worse in the air than it does on the ground," Hill said. "It looks terrible - like a war zone."
County officials were still assessing what needed to be done.
"We're trying to set up things in place where people can go, sign up for help with what they need, like basic food, or help in cleaning up," Hill said.
He added the community was faring well.
"They have compassion here," Hill said. "They really feel for the families here who've lost everything. They're extending every hand they can to help them."
A crew of 200 to 250 Dyer County deputies, local firefighters and rescue squad personnel were assisting with rescue, recovery and other efforts, Holt said. The Tennessee Highway Patrol was sending in officers to relieve deputies and others who'd worked all night.
At least seven were known to be dead in the Maxey community off Enochs and Cobb Roads. The community lies just northwest of the Newbern city limits.
ELOY URESTE was one of the five known dead on Enochs Road, where about 10 to 15 mobile homes were destroyed, Holt confirmed. URESTE'S double-wide mobile home was splintered.
"He was in the bathtub," when the storm hit, said his sister-in-law, Robbie Cardoza. "It threw him a good 250 feet behind the house. A rod (from a bed frame) went through his neck."
The bloody rod still lay on the ground amid the debris, Robbie Cardoza and her husband, Andy, milled about trying to salvage what they could of his belongings.
A friend who had been in the mobile home with URESTE was thrown 500 feet into a ditch, Robbie Cardoza said. He was taken to the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.
The area around URESTE'S residence that had contained a group of double-wide mobile homes now looked like an open field littered with debris.