Claiborne Tornado Survivor Shares Story

By: Jim Freeman, Reporter
By: Jim Freeman, Reporter

Barren Creek, Claiborne County (WVLT) - The National Weather Service and Claiborne County officials have released new estimates of the damage from Thursday's tornado in Claiborne County.

The national weather service believes an EF-1 tornado hit south of New Tazewell in the Barren Creek community.

Officials estimate $350,000 in property damage includes 24 homes that were damaged, 4 homes and eight barns that were destroyed.

Seven people were injured, but thankfully no one was killed.

It's Claiborne County's second bout with severe weather this month.

The cedar ridge trailer park in New Tazewell was hit three and a half weeks ago.

Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman has spent the day in Claiborne County surveying the damage.

We met up with one man who has an amazing story of survival and rescue from Thursday night's tornado.

Two tornadoes, both EF-1, have hit Claiborne County this month. The paths are about a quarter mile apart. Of the two, Anthony Gambrel may have the closet call.

It felt like a house of cards.

"It had so much force on the door, I could not open it and by that time it had done collapsed," Anthony Gambrel's apartment used to be here in the loft of what once was a barn. "It hit me in the back of the neck and it folded me up and had me pinned in."

There was no time to pray, Anthony said he just shouted "Oh God".

"It had the wind cut off of me so I couldn't hardly breath and I was just thinking, this is pretty much going to be it."

But here is the best part of Anthony's amazing story, as the wind comes to his rescue. "It picked that up off top of me and threw it off."

The roaring sound of Thursday night's tornado is replaced by the buzzing roar of chainsaws. And this sight may have you doing a double take.

Prisoners from the Claiborne County Jail have gone from serving time to giving of their time.

"It makes me feel pretty good you know you're getting something accomplished," says Joey Sincell, Claiborne County inmate.

Amidst all the hurry and helping, one mother quietly tends to her young and they have a story too.

"And we came out and everything was gone. And the container was still on the porch. And the kittens were still in it," says Mark Honeycutt.

Claiborne County went from the 50's to the 90's without a single tornado. Now with two already in the books for April, residents are hoping nature stops its recent trend.

The National Weather Service out of Morristown says this tornado cut a path four and a half miles long, 75 yards wide and had winds of 100 miles per hour. It died out at the edge of New Tazewell.


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