10 years later: Johnson County restaurant owner thankful for community response after 2011 tornado

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BUTLER, Tenn. (WJHL) – A tornado touched down on the night of April 27, 2011, around the town of Butler, tracking 12 miles along Highway 67.  

Looking back to April 27, scars from tornadoes are still visible ten years later.

Monsoon Restaurant, a popular destination for Thai food, was in the direct path of the tornado.  

Pictures from the damage reveal the roof of the restaurant being peeled back, with significant damage to the rest of the building.

Reflecting back on that terrible night, Prayoon Royston, the owner of Monsoon Restaurant, was amazed at the quick response from her neighbors. 

Her local community helped her pick up the broken pieces, and her prayers were answered.  

“He was on my side and helped me,” Royston said.   

In the coming weeks and months, the community rallied behind her to rebuild. She was able to reopen the restaurant in early June.

Damage assessments from the tornado revealed winds were around 120 mph.  According to Johnson County EMA Director Jason Blevins, the most heavily damaged area was in Doe Valley. 

“We had a total of 39 homes that were damaged and over 300 to 400 barns and outbuildings that were damaged,” said Blevins.

Two people died in the Johnson County tornado, but the warning process saved countless lives that night. Ten years ago, a message was manually sent through the reverse 911 system.  

Technology has significantly improved since 2011, and Johnson County has made significant improvements to its warning system. Now, weather warnings are automatically sent to residents in the county.

Royston has overcome so many obstacles since arriving in Johnson County in the 1980s.  June 2021 marks the 21st anniversary of Monsoon Restaurant.  One of the most important lessons she has learned from this tragedy:

“Learn to be strong and humble and give God glory.”  

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