Apr 3, 2014 5:17 PM
It doesn't take all that much effort for the former principal of White Hall Elementary to think back to that day 40 years ago when he heard that his school had been damaged in a powerful twister and that there might have been people inside.
Former principal Merwyn Jackson remembers April 3, 1974, when the Madison County elementary school was severely damaged by the tornado.
"One of the 4th grade teacher's rooms back here, the roof was gone. You could look up and see the sky. The back wall was gone it had three walls left. And yet, the papers on her desk were still there," Jackson said.
He drove straight to the school as soon as he heard there might be damage. There were in fact 14 people inside the elementary school when the tornado struck. They were there playing basketball.
He says that if the group had taken shelter where they were supposed to, against a big reinforced wall, they might have been crushed during the storm.
"Fortunately, they didn't get there because a wall fell down," he said. "They found their way to a small dressing room and a small hallway which was a prime place to be."
All of them survived.
Much of White Hall Elementary had to be rebuilt and the school has since been expanded.
Jackson says he's always been thankful that no one who went to the school at the time was hurt or killed by that tornado. Although, he was, of course, always sorry to hear others in his community were deeply affected. Seven people were killed in Madison County that day.