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Destructive storm knocks plenty of trees down

Matthew Lane • Jan 13, 2020 at 8:45 PM

KINGSPORT — A severe thunderstorm swept through the Tri-Cities on Saturday night, bringing heavy rain and strong winds and causing widespread damage across the region.

The storm knocked down trees and power lines throughout the area, leaving 37,000 homes and businesses without power Sunday morning, American Electric Power reported. Outages were still being reported on Monday.

Derek Eisentrout, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, said the thunderstorm brought winds of 60 to 70 miles per hour to our region. Warnings began at about 3 p.m. on Saturday and continued to 8 p.m., Eisentrout said.

“Even before this thunderstorm activity came into the area, we had wind gusts over 80 miles an hour at Cove Mountain and the atmosphere ahead of this system had strong, gusty winds as the system approached,” Eisentrout said. “So there were short bursts with high gusts as the storm moved through.”

In addition to the storm warnings, the National Weather Service also issued a few tornado warnings, with one verified tornado in Hancock County.

Pauline Bowen, who lives in the West Carters Valley community, believes one went through her backyard.

BACKYARD DESTRUCTION

When you approach Bowen’s Cannon Street home from the street, the house looks like it survived the storm without damage. But step into the backyard and you’re in another world.

At least six backyard trees were knocked over by Saturday’s storm, a power pole was pulled from the side of the house and the gazebo-like roof over Bowen’s outdoor hot tub was destroyed. On the pool side of her yard, the pool house roof was severely damaged, lawn furniture was overturned and a number of yard decorations were damaged and strewn about.

Employees with Asplundh worked on the lone standing tree in Bowen’s backyard, cutting off the damaged limbs and trimming the tree to make it safe. Just down the road on Burlington Avenue, at least a dozen trucks from AEP and lawn care companies were working to trim and remove fallen and damaged trees from people’s yards.

Bowen said the employees told her the neighborhood was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in our region.

“I’m just heartbroken over it,” Bowen said of the damage to her property.

POWER OUTAGES REPORTED

AEP announced on Monday that more than 90 percent of customers who lost power as a result of Saturday’s storm had their service restored.

As crews cleared up outages in their respective areas, they were moving to assist in areas where outages remained. More than 100 line workers from as far away as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were in our region assisting with local crews until the restoration effort is complete.

AEP predicted by the end of the day on Monday, all of its affected customers in Virginia and in Hawkins and Sullivan counties in Tennessee would have their power restored.

RED CROSS ASSISTANCE

In the aftermath of Saturday’s thunderstorm, the American Red Cross assisted seven families in Washington and Sullivan counties who suffered significant damage to their homes. Volunteers also spent the weekend assessing property damage.

If you wish to volunteer with the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org or call the Northeast Tennessee chapter at (423) 765-4222.

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