Tornado confirmed to have hit East Tennessee, injuring 7

Associated Press • Apr 27, 2007 at 9:39 AM

NEW TAZEWELL, Tenn. - Seven people were treated and released Friday for injuries from a series of severe storms and a tornado swept across eastern Tennessee.

All the injuries were in Claiborne County, about 40 miles north of Knoxville, where at least two houses and two mobile homes were destroyed when the storm hit around 8 p.m. EDT Thursday, said David Breeding, deputy emergency management director.

The National Weather Service sent teams Friday to Claiborne and Cumberland counties, which sit along the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau, to confirm tornadoes in both counties.

They determined a tornado with maximum wind speed of 100 miles an hour hit near New Tazewell and cut a swath of damage about 4.6 miles long. A portion of the track was the same that was hit by another tornado on April 3, meteorologists said.

There was no word yet on whether the storm in Cumberland County also was a tornado.

The one that hit three weeks ago that wrecked two businesses and some mobile homes and caused about $1.2 million in damage," Breeding said.

"We are just now beginning our damage assessment" from the latest storm, he said Friday.

But roads had already been cleared of fallen limbs, and electricity was restored to all but about two dozen homes, he said. As many as 400 homes - about 20 percent of the county - lost power Thursday night.

Other than the destroyed structures, officials found damage at 16 houses, eight mobile homes and one county building used as a polling station, Breeding said. Damage was estimated at about $350,000.

"We opened the door and heard just like a jet engine taking off, and I said, ‘No, that's a tornado,'" resident Les Rogers told WBIR-TV. "We headed to the back of the house and hunkered down in the kitchen."

Rogers and his family weren't injured but their home suffered significant damage.

Jason Ellis and his family were the only ones who came to an emergency shelter at New Tazewell Elementary School. They fled their mobile home when the wind started rocking it back and forth. "It felt like the top of the house was fixing to come off. I just didn't want to chance it," he said. In Cumberland County, a suspected tornado touched down several times over a 4½-mile-long path near Crossville about 4 p.m., authorities said. No injuries were reported, although there was damage to a number of trees and outbuildings, said Keith Garrison, director of emergency management for Crossville and Cumberland County. One mobile home had its roof peeled off, but no one was inside at the time, he said. AP-CS-04-27-07 1446EDT

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