Cleanup after tornado touchdown in Claiborne County nearing an end

Cleanup workers are now burning the vegetated debris, meaning all the trees and plants destroyed in the tornado.
Cleanup workers are now burning the vegetated debris, meaning all the trees and plants destroyed in the tornado.

SPEEDWELL (WATE) – It’s now been just over two weeks since an EF-3 tornado touched down in Claiborne and Campbell counties, destroying homes and leaving owners to pick up the pieces.

Related coverage: Tornado, strong storms destroy homes in East Tennessee

The community of Speedwell saw the most damage from the tornado and the storm system that spawned it on July 27.

About a week later, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee National Guard were on the ground, making sure all the debris was cleared as quickly as possible.

State and local agencies now say the cleanup is nearing an end.

Cleanup workers have been in Claiborne County for two weeks, picking up the pieces of the damage left behind, and with the help of state agencies, most of the debris has already been removed.

Cleanup workers have been in Claiborne County for two weeks, picking up the pieces of the damage left behind, and with the help of state agencies, most of the debris has already been removed.
Cleanup workers have been in Claiborne County for two weeks, picking up the pieces of the damage left behind, and with the help of state agencies, most of the debris has already been removed.

It’s a speedy effort Claiborne County officials say wouldn’t have been possible without the help of TEMA and the National Guard.

“All that’s left is the stuff that has to be taken to the landfill which is mainly shingles, vinyl siding, rubber products and heavy plastics,” said Gina Breeding with Claiborne Emergency Management Homeland Security.

Cleanup workers are now burning the vegetated debris, meaning all the trees and plants destroyed in the tornado. The National Guard has been on hand deploying engineers here to assist with the cleanup.

“We got quite a bit done up to this point, and there’s obviously some left to do, and we’re happy to do it and help our fellow Tennesseans in whatever way we can,” said 2nd Lt. Donald Feaster.

Then there were the volunteers who made sure the workers were taken care of during the cleanup effort.

“We’ve been here a little over a week, and we’ve probably fed a total around 2,500 meals maybe 3,000 meals in that time,” said Joseph Martin with Cumberland Gap Disaster Relief.

Claiborne County EMA says 11 homes and two businesses were destroyed in the tornado. Thirty homes in total were affected, but thankfully there were no injuries from the tornado or during the cleanup.

“There’s no other answer for it except The Lord was watching out for people,” said Martin.

“We have had in this county six tornadoes over the last five years. And this has been the most major that we’ve had here,” said Breeding.

The quiet neighborhood is starting to get back to normal. Much of the land that once held destroyed homes is now cleared out..

“There’s a lot of people coming together to help us, and you really couldn’t ask for a better environment to conduct our operations,” said Feaster.

The Claiborne County EMA says they’re hoping to have the cleanup completely finished by Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the weather.

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