Vol State 2006 Tornado; How Drills Likely Saved Lives

Posted at 7:00 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 20:08:12-05

With forecasted severe weather right around the corner, NewsChannel 5 visited Vol State Community College to look back on the devastating tornado that hit campus in 2006.

The images were hard to forget - the destruction left by an E-F 3 tornado that ripped through parts of middle Tennessee on April, 7 2006. A total of ten people were killed. 

One of the hardest hit areas was in Gallatin. At Vol State Community College, hundreds of students and faculty were on campus at the time.

"The tornado came from that direction, went right through the lobby here," said Eric Melcher. 

Two buildings on campus took a direct hit. Thankfully, everyone inside was warned in time. 

"I was down here, had my brief case over my head. We were all joking around. It was just another tornado drill until someone came running in the double doors there and said the tornado was in the parking lot and then everyone got a little bit more serious," Melcher said. 

Every semester, the school conducts a tornado drill. While they didn't take it seriously at first that day, school officials credit those drills with saving lives. "Just across the street, unfortunately, we had people that lost their lives when it hit their homes," Melcher explained. 

"We certainly take it a lot more seriously," he said. Since 2006 the school has added outdoor loudspeakers and a phone intercom system in every classroom among several other additions.