Nettleton Twister Remembered

Around ten o'clock at night on may 15th, 1968, a tornado ripped up from the southwest across the Nettleton community. There was no warning in those days before sirens and radar.

Danny Honnoll "It was a beautiful day just like most days before tornados and such. That night as the storm started rolling in, of course we don't have the precursor today, the alarms and such. We just had radio stations and try to do the best we could and just listen for the storms. "

Old newspaper headlines, some black and white snap shots hardly begin to relate the terror of that night 40 years ago.

A storm system moved up from the southwest whipping up a tornado with winds in excess of 200 miles per hour and almost 3/4 of a mile wide.

Aiming right at the Nettleton community.

Danny Honnoll lived north of Jonesboro, he noticed the storm before he went to bed.

Honnoll, "It always storms, nothing ever happens."

"Within 45 minutes they called and said my grandmothers house had been totally destroyed."

The invalid grandmother lived on Willow road Honnoll and his brother usually stayed with her at night.

"That was the first week we didn't spend the night with her and she happened to sleep in the one room that remained intact after the storm hit."

That night the South side of Race Street was littered with destroyed homes, debris and the injured and dead.

The twister then jumped the tracks aiming right at the school.

The tornado ripped through the school complex leaving two buildings standing. One is now the Raider Academy.and the cafetorium which is now used as a storage building. The thing about the cafetorium is that it was used the following week for high school graduation because there was no where else to have it.

If school had been in session it would have been real bad.

As emergency workers rushed from Jonesboro, Nettleton residents went about in shock.

Honnoll, "You ask what the reaction was, we was just stunned, I mean we was walking around like zombies, in the rubble trying that night to find survivors and such."

The national guard moved from searching for victims and survivors to guard duty.

Time they say heals all wounds but even after 40 years. Danny often thinks of the friends that he lost that night so long ago.

"From time to time I think about the people I went to school with and church and I think back to what they might have been in their life if this storm hadn't taken them from earth."

As if this wasn't bad enough, 5 years later yet another tornado tore through the Nettleton community.

We'll have that story on the 35th anniversary later on this month.