News 12 Then: The last Easter weekend tornado in 1997

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Longtime residents of East Brainerd have reason to dread Easter weekend.

Their community has now been devastated twice by tornadoes over the holiday weekend… 23 years apart.

The March 29th storm also hit just around midnight, Friday going into Saturday morning.

It first touched down in Lookout Valley, then “skipped” over the city, touching down again in East Brainerd, before continuing into Bradley County.

This was a powerful F3 tornado (a different scale than the current EF scale)

23 years ago, current County Mayor Jim Coppinger was the Chattanooga Fire Chief.

Back then he said “It’s not the best of circumstances with the debris, people leaving on their own and it being Easter weekend and people out of town.”

Two people were critically injured in East Brainerd and 44 people hurt.

Another 50 were injured in Bradley County.

But there were no fatalities.

The tornado did particular damage to the Hickory Villa and Ledford Apartments.

The tornado destroyed 59 homes and four more mobile homes in Hamilton and Bradley County.  Also 5 poultry farms. Another 650 homes were damaged.

News 12 aired a 90 minute special on the one month anniversary of the tornado.

News 12’s Bill Mitchell and Patrick Core were here for both events, along with several people behind the cameras.

1997 Patrick Core

1997 Bill Mitchell (r) with Bruce Garner and Heidi Robinson (l)

Thanks to Tommy Anderson on YouTube, we can show it to you.



Categories: Bradley County, Chattanooga, Featured, From The Archives, Hamilton County, Local News

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