The tornado that touched down 21 years ago today was on the ground for almost 20 miles. During that time, it destroyed or damaged 216 homes, injured 57 people, and took 3 lives. The afternoon prior to the tornado saw Southeast host a baseball tournament against Northeast.
Larry Etheridge, head baseball coach from the 1992 Tigers team, remembers the evening the tornado hit. "We were sitting right here in the dugout, my coaches and I, after everybody had gone, talking about some of the things we thought we needed to do, Coach Taylor, Coach Miller, our wives, and our children were here. I looked back in the southwest and saw a lot of lightning flashing and so I told them, 'I guess we need to go ahead and go,' and we did, we got up and left."
When Etheridge returned to the field the next morning, most of the field was destroyed. As a community looked to pick up the pieces, neighbors from near and far came to help.
"We had a tremendous amount of help," says Etheridge. "People from neighboring counties, from Supervisors' crews in Newton County, a lot of volunteers, we began to pick up and clean up, and of course Miss Davis was very instrumental in getting us a lot of help over here."
Dwane Taylor, who was an assistant coach on the team, recounts, "The one thing I remember from that time is how the school, the community, players, students, parents all came together that week to move stuff, throw away wet stuff, they just really came together to get the school back ready to go as soon as we could, and I'll just never forget how everybody worked together."
The baseball team became a rallying point for the school and community. The team started that season 0-7, but when on to lose only one more time until the South State Finals. Today, Southeast Middle School is completely rebuilt, but there are still reminders of that March day. Three of the temporary buildings used for classrooms still stand as storage on the Southeast Campus.