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Tornado Survivors Seek Shelter In Hotel, With Friends, Relatives

December 25, 1988

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) _ Christmas passed quietly for the homeless survivors of a tornado that killed one person, injured 15 others and destroyed 20 buildings as it swirled through two Nashville suburbs.

While most survivors sought shelter with families and friends, others accepted free refuge from local hotels.

″Many of them seemed very appreciative,″ said Lisa Jezwinski, a desk clerk at Holiday Inn, where several of the survivors spent the night.

Bob Bissinger, an Atlanta tool dealer, was visiting his parents at their Brentwood home when the tornado hit, but missed the twister’s destruction.

″This is the best Christmas present of all,″ Bissinger said. ″We’re alive.″

Mike Thompson, emergency management director for Williamson County, estimated damage to houses at $3 million. Gov. Ned McWherter sent state troopers and others to the area to prevent looting.

Sheriff’s deputies patrolled homes as officials tried to restore electricity and phone lines.

″They still haven’t finished assessing the damages, so I don’t know when the cleanup is set to begin,″ said deputy Bill Poole. ″We have provided extra security for the subdivisions.″

The twister destroyed 20 buildings in its three-mile-long path just after dawn Saturday. As many as eight tornadoes were reported, but only one tornado caused the destruction in Franklin and neighboring Brentwood, officials said.

A tornado hitting in December is unusual, officials at the National Weather Service said.

″Tornadoes are not completely out of the question during the wintertime, but they are uncommon,″ said meteorologist Doug Boyette. The weather service often issues tornado watches but they say the twisters rarely materalize.

Not a single piece of furniture remained intact in Hardy Britton’s home, but he and his two daughters were uninjured.

The tornado pulled Britton’s wife through a broken window of their frame house and hurled her at least 20 yards into an open field, but she suffered only minor injuries. The Brittons spent the night with family.

Ernest Rice, 67, was killed by the twister. Fifteen people were taken to Williamson Medical Center, south of Nashville. All were treated and released, except one woman who was listed in stable condition Sunday, nursing supervisor Sherry Young said.

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