On a recent hosted rip to Clarksville, Tennessee, I saw first hand what a community can do after a devastating tornado. One look at the statue, “The Day After” a beautiful bronze statue of a man reading a paper, shows how this town rose from the wreckage of a tornado that whipped through their town on January 21st at 4:15 am in 1999. The tornado took spires of churches and ripped roofs off buildings. This beautiful statue is in honor of the tornado and the statue shows a man sitting on a park bench reading an edition of The Leaf Chronicle that came out the day after the devastating tornado. According to Michelle Dickerson, of Visit Clarksville, “The newspaper never missed a day of print.”
The sculptor of “The Day After” is Scott Wise and the statue was completed in 2003.
The tornado was an F3 that spanned six miles in length and was 880 yards wide. Thankfully no one died in this horrific storm and only five were injured. Clarksville is Tennessee’s fifth largest city, and they have a population of around 150,000.
To get the facts on the tornado, I turned to the Weather.gov website. Coverage of the tornado stated, “The tornado ripped apart a 5 block area of downtown Clarksville and teared up buildings in Austin Peay State University. Once the tornado ravaged the city, downtown Clarksville resembled bombed-out London during World War 2. Bricks and glass were strewn everywhere. The photo editor of the Leaf-Chronicle newspapers, Fred Dye, said “It looked like somebody walked through with a broom and knocked over whatever was loose enough to knock down.”
The courthouse built in 1878 was in ruins and the newspaper building was badly damaged. When I arrived this December, 18 years later, the spires of one of the beautiful local churches have risen like a phoenix in iron giving a new look to the city skyline. The courthouse has been rebuilt and the beautiful Custom House museum expanded. The statue of “The Day After” shows a resilience and determination of the people of this historic town that was established in 1790.