Storm Clean Up Begins

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Townsend, Sevier County (WVLT) - At times National Park officials say the winds in the Smokies were gusting past one-hundred miles an hour, bad conditions for the trees in the park, but also for the folks in the foothills.

There is still plenty of work left to do as many trees were downed last night, but it was especially scary for people whose homes were hit and for campers inside the park last night.

Residents of Townsend woke up Tuesday morning to find a big mess outside, downed trees and power lines everywhere. A strange event usually reserved for the spring.

"And when it came in, it came Ridge Mountain and got into their valley and like a funnel effect just around and around it went," says Officer Frank Shearl, from the Townsend Police Department.

But for people like Dave Neamand, he wasn't able to sleep through this one, "I guess I was semi asleep and heard 'ka-thud' and got up to look."

Neamand doesn't believe his home is damaged, but knows he could not get through the front door, "thank goodness we have a back door because we sure couldn't get out."

For the Great Smoky Mountains winds equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane were recorded.

"Cove Mountain Weather Station recorded 106 miles per hour which was a record high speed," says Nancy Gray from the National Park Service.

That's scared many campers at Elkmont.

"The folks right next door to us, they are tent camping and the lady said she didn't get a wink of sleep all night long," says camper Harold Barnett.

A voluntary evacuation was announced and Barnett hopes to come back and enjoy his week long camping trip he just started on Monday. "We are going to leave the pop up here and we have the option of finding a hotel for the night or driving back home."

Park officials say an adult and a six year old were injured at the Cades Cove campground but were treated and released.


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