Customers sheltered as storm flies over Marshall

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Customers and employees of stores and restaurants across Middle Tennessee were sheltered by various businesses when the killer tornado struck on Friday.

A dozen people huddled in the kitchen at Huddle House on Nashville Highway that afternoon after general manager Darlene Davis warned customers about being close to the broad glass windows.

With cellphone calls coming in about touchdowns in Cornersville and Chapel Hill - both of which were unfounded - Davis took no chances.

Brian Welch, Darlene's son-in-law, works at the Dollar Store in Chapel Hill and she reported they were taking no chances there either, so staff and customers were all being sent into the office to get away from the windows.

Such precautions are not unique as there have been reports of large retail chain stores offering customers shelter away from windows and in areas that at more sturdy.

At the Huddle House, Stacey Robison was getting weather reports on her cell phone: Tornado warning until 1:15 p.m.

"It has touched down in Cornersville and is coming this way," Davis announced. "I'm scarred to death of a storm."

Some customers may have been slow to get in the kitchen. Others may have been frustrated by the delay, but no on questioned the idea that it would be better to be safe than sorry.

"It ain't even hit us yet," Davis said.

"They just issued another one," Robison replied.

Meanwhile, Marie Tracey and her granddaughter, Parker Towell, 8, accepted Davis' offer of hospitality in the kitchen: Free drinks.

Margaritas weren't available, but Tracey got iced tea and young Parker got chocolate milk.

Within about 15 minutes, the hail storm had passed, rain had diminished, some customers left and Parker finished her chocolate milk.