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Tornado at Union University

*Updated 2/5/08 9:16 p.m. CST* David Dockery was just interviewed by phone on WREG. Major damage at Union including all women's dorms destroyed and heavy damage at men's dorms and academic buildings. See below for more. 

According to news reports out of ABC 33/40 in Alabama (here and here) and the Commercial Appeal in Memphis (here), a tornado has apparently hit two dorms at Union University in Jackson, TN. There are no reports of injuries as far as the reports say, but there seem to be people trapped in the dorms. I will update as soon as more info becomes available. Please keep Union University, Dr. David Dockery, and the students at the university in your prayers tonight. There is a second round of storms heading through Arkansas right now and are due to hit West Tennessee overnight or tomorrow.

*Updated 2/5/08 8:20 p.m. CST* More reports out of Memphis reporting the same at www.wreg.com.

*Updated 2/5/08 8:36 p.m. CST* Dr. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist in Memphis, was just interviewed live on WREG Channel 3 in Memphis. Dr. Gaines has 2 daughters at Union and they called their dad to tell him that their dorms were hit by tornadoes as well as a commons building. Apparently, the campus was prepared and the students were huddled in inner rooms/bathrooms. According to Dr. Gaines, Dr. Dockery has asked faculty members to come get students whose dorms have been damaged and take them to their homes. Continue to pray for Union as well as the entire Mid-South area. One of the meterologists on WREG stated that in 30 years of covering weather in Memphis, this was the worst set of storms he had ever seen.

*Updated 2/5/08 9:16 p.m. CST* Dr. David Dockery was interviewed on WREG. 8 male students are trapped in a dorm. They are okay, but stuck in a dorm. All women's dorms have been destroyed. Men's dorms have been heavily damaged. All students have been moved to the Penock building. There are 1,100 students living on campus. All classes have been cancelled through Feb 13. At that time, a decision will be made about the rest of the campus. 2 academic buildings were heavily damaged. They had another tornado hit in 2002, and he said that this damage was 10 times worse.

*Updated 2/5/08 9:53 p.m. CST* A new report was posted at the Commercial Appeal out of Memphis (available here). The news story reports that 2 dorms were destroyed and the roof of a classroom building was sheared off. According to Tim Ellsworth, Union's communications director, most of the cars on campus have been destroyed or damaged and 2 dorms "have been reduced to rubble." Jennings Hall, which houses the Christian Studies, Communications, and Music departments has sustained major roof damage. 

*Updated 2/5/08 10:08 p.m. CST* WREG Channel 3 in Memphis just showed video from Union's campus on their 10:00 news. The damage is devastating. I imagine it will be even worse when video can be taken in the daylight. Please pray for Union University and the people of the Mid-South area. There are 2 confirmed deaths–one in Shelby Co. (Memphis) and one in Fayette Co. (Somerville, TN, east of Memphis).

*Updated 2/5/08 10:28 p.m. CST* News report posted by the Jackson Sun (newspaper in Jackson, TN) available here.