JACKSON, Tenn. – Jan. 28, 2013 – Union University will observe the five-year anniversary of the 2008 tornado that decimated the campus with a special service Feb. 5 in G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel.
At 7:02 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2008, an EF-4 tornado ripped through the heart of campus, leveling multiple student housing facilities and causing massive damage to several academic buildings. Fifty-one students were hospitalized that night with injuries, and some students were trapped in collapsed buildings for hours as rescue personnel worked to free them.
But despite the damage, no lives were lost.
“As I looked at the rubble late Tuesday night, and especially when the sun came up on Wednesday morning, I said, ‘There’s no way we didn’t have 200 people die.’” Union President David S. Dockery said in recalling the event. “I’m convinced – nobody will ever convince me otherwise – that God’s angels were unleashed to come as ministering spirits to His people that night and to protect those students in the most precarious of situations. I’m confident that’s what happened.”
Despite the damage, Union administrators worked tirelessly to resume classes only two weeks later. In the months following the tornado, more than 5,000 volunteers and 8,000 donors from all over the world came to Union’s aid. The university regrouped and embarked upon an aggressive rebuilding plan that saw 14 new student housing buildings completed and opened prior to the fall 2008 semester.
“Out of the rubble across this campus I am praying that we will see renewal,” Dockery said during that time. “We lost the buildings, but we did not lose the Union spirit.”
The hour-long anniversary service will include music, prayers, testimonies from some of the students who experienced the tornado and a devotional from Dockery. It will begin at 7:02 p.m. and is open to the public.