Lawrence County residents thankful damage from possible tornado in Amish community wasn

Lawrence County residents thankful damage from possible tornado in Amish community wasn

A few residents and business owners are assessing the damage of their property after a possible tornado ripped through Lawrence County late Thursday afternoon, uprooting large trees and damaging structures, according to the Nashville Weather Service.

Mature trees along the violent storm’s path were unearthed, while a popular antique store and residence sustained the most damage as high-speed winds tore through the area. The Nashville Weather Service crews were surveying the damage Friday, according to NWS weather forecaster, Jason B. Wright, to determine if a tornado touched down.

No injuries were reported.

Linda Staggs, co-owner of 13-year old business Heart & Soul Antiques and Collectibles in Ethridge, was sitting on the porch of the popular flea market hub she owns with husband David, when she realized she was in the path of a possible tornado.

David and Linda Staggs, co-owners of Heart & Soul Antiques and Collectibles in Ethridge, a town in Lawrence County, inspect damages to their popular business after a possible tornado in the heart of Amish country, which draws people from as far away as Iceland.

“I was on the phone with David, and he said he heard it was coming near the store, so I got up to turn on the radio,” Linda Skaggs said. “When I did, that’s when it hit. I ran to the bathroom and waited it out.”

The violent winds demolished the porch structure at approximately 4:30 p.m., where Skaggs was sitting just seconds before, damaging the roof and dozens of pieces of Amish-made furniture displayed outside of the store.

The antique store, a 27-year-old warehouse encompassing 2,500 square feet of treasures from glassware to Amish handmade furniture and local jellies and jams, is situated in the heart of Amish country where it’s not uncommon to see wagons led by horses amid busy Hwy. 43.

When she emerged, she exited the building through the back door since rubble blocked the front entrance.

“I didn’t realize the damage until I made it outside. I was lucky. It could’ve been a lot worse,” Linda Staggs said.

Co-owner of a popular flea market business Heart & Soul Antiques and Collectibles in Ethridge, Tennessee inspects the damage with Amish furniture maker Enos Gingrich, who handmade wooden chairs, swings and benches for the store. Gingrich said damage to the furniture might have been thousands of dollars.

Owner of the building David Magee said he is still assessing the damage and the timeline of repairs to the building.

Despite the external destruction, Magee and the Staggs said they are “thankful” that no significant damage affected the inside of the building or the inventory inside.

“I am just thankful Linda was not injured,” said Magee, who owns about 32 leasing spots in the area.

Linda Staggs said her phone has not stopped ringing since the building was hit.

“People keep calling to see if I am OK,” she said. “That’s one thing about small town life. Everybody knows you. We call each other. We check on each other.”

The Staggs said they are looking forward to getting back to business as usual at the store that draws customers from all over the U.S. and the world, as far away as Iceland.

More:Middle TN weather: Storms bring tornado warnings, damage across region Thursday

Tree falls on house while residents in basement

Approximately 10 miles down the road further into Lawrence County, Sam Outlaw — area resident since 1991 —helped roofers and his neighbors cut through the branches of a massive overturned tree that smashed into his roof on Thursday, damaging his home’s facade, front door and windows.

“Thank God, my wife and I were in the basement at the time. We didn’t know it was coming,” Outlaw said. “I knew it was a possibility for a tornado to be in the area, but we didn’t know it would be this close until it hit. I heard a roaring.”

Mature trees on Granddaddy Road in Lawrence County were ripped from the ground like weeds during violent tornadic winds late Thursday afternoon.

Six large mature trees were ripped from his acre-plus yard and adjacent property like wilted weeds from a flower bed.

“It must’ve happened in just seconds. It’s truly amazing how this much damage can occur in such a short period of time,” Outlaw, a retired state workforce development employee, said.

On Friday, he said the cost of the damage is still being assessed.

Homeowner Sam Outlaw (second from right) surveys damage from the roof of his home in Lawrence County, following tornadic-like winds with neighbors and roofers (left) Elvin Stauffer, Jaime Burkhard, Andrew Tutwiler and crew at the intersection of Granddaddy Road and Gore Road on February 17, 2023.

“You never anticipate having to go through something like this. Storms have come through this area before. You always know it’s a possibility, but you don’t plan for it.”

He appreciates the help from his neighbors the most he said.

“They volunteered their time. It’s no less than tremendous,” Outlaw said.