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Tales from the Past: Storm blows through Wilson County in 1998

Jacob Smith • Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Where were you when the great flood of 2010 happened?

I was at my grandparent’s house in Pointe Barton. We had to go over to a neighbor’s house, where the water from the lake had come all the way up to his garage. We stood in water that was up to our knees as we tried to move things into his house where, he hoped, they would be safe. 

We seem to always remember the big storms and what we were doing at the time. So, I could understand when I came across the April 17, 1998 issue of the Lebanon Democrat, where seven stories on the first two pages were about a devastating storm. 

As many as 10 people were injured and more than two dozen buildings damaged when a series of storms sent several tornadoes on a dance of destruction across Wilson County. 

The devastation from the twisters was widespread, striking in West Wilson, downtown Lebanon and the northeastern section of the county near Carroll-Oakland School, where debris from damaged and demolished buildings was spread over an area of about one-quarter mile. 

Numerous buildings along West Main Street were also damaged in the most serious part of the storm, which struck shortly after 4 p.m. Twisted metal and sections of roofing were scattered along the street when emergency workers arrived. 

Several other outlying areas of the county also reported varying degrees of damage from the daylong storm, which first rumbled into the area shortly after sunrise. 

Then-Wilson Emergency Management Agency Director David Hale said officials reported “eight or 10 sightings” of funnel clouds and that authorities believe “probably three or four tornadoes actually touched down.”

“We have no idea how many trees and power lines we have down,” Hale said. “There was an awful lot of power line damage and structural damage in the city, mainly along West Main and the Bypass.”

An emergency room physician at University Medical Center estimated five to 10 people sought treatment for a variety of minor injuries resulting from the storm. 

Dr. Donald Nuessle said all of those injured were treated and released, including “a few” hurt in minor traffic mishaps. 

Hale said one of the injuries occurred when a woman’s mobile home overturned in the Carrol-Oakland area, briefly trapping her inside. He said WEMA workers quickly freed the woman from the mangled mobile home. 

Do you have any stories from the storm in April 1998? If you do, send me an email.

Jacob Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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