OklahomaTornado brings back memories of 1996 Fentress Co. storm

Oklahoma tornado brings back memories of 1996 Fentress Co. tornado

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The aftermath resulted in several trees falling on top of the school. The gymnasium was severely damaged, and the roof was blown off. The aftermath resulted in several trees falling on top of the school. The gymnasium was severely damaged, and the roof was blown off.
"It was a big event for Allardt, we had a huge amount of number of trees down, a bunch of property damage, fortunately there were no injuries reported that day," said Crockett. "It was a big event for Allardt, we had a huge amount of number of trees down, a bunch of property damage, fortunately there were no injuries reported that day," said Crockett.
"We're thankful they're safe, but it did destroy the structural integrity of the gym, and they had to condemn it. We went a couple of years without a gym," said Campbell. "We're thankful they're safe, but it did destroy the structural integrity of the gym, and they had to condemn it. We went a couple of years without a gym," said Campbell.

JAMESTOWN (WATE) - Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday.

It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County. 

No one was killed, but people inside at the time had to take cover, and it was more than students and staff.

Ernest Campbell, the principal of Allardt Elementary, was a sixth grade teacher at the school on March 19, 1996, the day that a tornado hit the small town of Allardt.

"Not only were some of the roofs were destroyed, but the gym was heavily damaged," said Campbell. 

The tornado happened on Saturday, so school wasn't in session, but there was a league basketball game being played in the gym while the tornado hit.

The aftermath resulted in several trees falling on top of the school. The gymnasium was severely damaged, and the roof was blown off.  

Basketball players in the gym at the time hid in the bathrooms for safety.

"We're thankful they're safe, but it did destroy the structural integrity of the gym, and they had to condemn it. We went a couple of years without a gym," said Campbell. 

A wing of elementary school is used today as an adult education center. The school was still used after the tornado, but the gym was torn down shortly after the tornado hit.

Allardt Elementary School was rebuilt in 2000, located hundreds of feet from the old school.

"It was a big event for Allardt, we had a huge amount of number of trees down, a bunch of property damage, fortunately there were no injuries reported that day," said Gary Crockett, a host for WDEB Radio.

Crockett says the 1996 tornado was destructive, but points out, the tornado super outbreak of 1974 killed seven Fentress County residents, and more than 300 across the country.

"The 1996 tornado doesn't begin to compare to the 1974 tornados," said Crockett.

In Oklahoma, where nine children have been confirmed dead, the fear is more victims may be found trapped in elementary schools.

That news hits home hard for Ernest Campbell.

"When I saw that on the news, that did bring back memories of the tornado that happened here, and my heart goes out to those individuals," Campbell said. 

That storm was a pivotal event for a former Allardt student who was a teenager when the tornado hit. 

We're talking about 6 News Meteorologist Julya Johnson, who said it sparked her interest in meteorology.  

"The gym was lying down; it was just destroyed and ruined. I just had so much curiosity about it. Why did it hit the school? Why did it not hit those trees? Why did it appear in the trees it was jumping? Why do storms do that?"

"I kept questioning the adults in my life, my parents especially, I was driving them crazy," Johnson said.

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