EF-1 tornado touched down in Monroe County, according to NWS

Monroe County Roof ripped off house in Monroe County (Source: Sheriff Tommy Jones)

TELLICO PLAINS (WATE) – The National Weather Service confirms that an EF1 tornado touched down in Monroe County Tuesday.

Anthony Cavallucci with the National Weather Service said the tornado touched down at the intersection of Gamble Gap Road and Mount Harmony Road in Tellico Plains. Cavallucci said peak wind gusts were between 90 and 95 miles per hour.

“It sounded like a freight train. Next thing I know the house started moving and you could feel it bouncing,” said Farris Everhart, the tornado ripped right by his home.

The path of the tornado was 200 yards wide and 7.8 miles long, according to the NWS. A storm report indicates large trees were snapped or uprooted in a valley along Gamble Gap Road to Mecca Pike. Extensive tree and structural damage was observed near Old State Road and Gamble Gap Road where it is believed the strongest winds occurred. The tornado damaged the Everhart’s home.

“Material things can be replaced but lives can’t,” said Everhart.

The NWS also observed thunderstorm wind damage in Sweetwater and Madisonville, mainly just west of Highway 68 between the two towns.

Cavallucci walked WATE 6 On Your Side through how his team determines if a tornado came through the area.

“What we’re doing is trying to find out how strong the winds were and also the location of where things occurred,” said Cavallucci. “Back at the office, I get an overhead view of where the damage was and I’m able to see if there was a definite track which would indicate more of a tornado track in a small area or if it happened to spread out as the storm continued which would indicate thunderstorm wind gust or straight line wind damage,” he said.

Cavallucci said after looking around and taking pictures in Sweetwater for an hour, there seemed to be a lot of scattered damage.

“These may be 60 mph wind gusts. The definition of severe thunderstorm is a wind gust that’s 58 mph or stronger, or one that produces hail that the size of a quarter one inch in diameter,” said Cavallucci. “We’ve seen winds speeds at 45 mph uproot trees. Again, it has to do with the soil moisture.”

SLIDESHOW: July 2015 weather photos
SLIDESHOW: July 2015 weather photos

Damage reported in Monroe County included damage at Sweetwater First Assembly Church of God, where the church’s steeple fell to the ground along with several trees. However, the National Weather Service said damage in Sweetwater was most likely from straight-line winds. They said wind speeds were around 70 miles per hour in Sweetwater.

At the peak of the storm around 7,300 customers of Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative were without power, mostly in Monroe County. The Lost Sea Adventure caverns in Monroe County where one of the locations that lost power.

Leann McKeehan lives on Old Mine Road in Sweetwater. Her street is covered with branches and her front yard is covered with trees. Leann says Tuesday night’s storms were scary but Wednesday, it was all about cleaning up.

“It sounded like sleet and my son knocked on the door and said, ‘You need to get out here.’ And I looked out the door and all my trees were laying down,” said McKeehan. “We had to stay in a motel last night. We had no power. All the roads were blocked here and we couldn’t get out. Our neighbors cleared a path so we could actually get out of here.”

Volunteers came from Loudon and Anderson County after they heard about the damage through Facebook.

“Just grabbed a chainsaw and came on down,” said Dean Courier. “I’m going to try and start at the road and cut back to work around the utility pole and get the pole back up and get everything moved.”

McKeehan says me after staying at a motel overnight and returning to see all the damage near her house Wednesday morning, she was overwhelmed.

“Something I’ve never been through and hope I never have to go through it again,” said McKeehan. “I’m very lucky, my whole family is lucky and this whole block is lucky because it could’ve been a lot worse.”


Tuesday night, the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross opened a shelter at Sequoyah High School due to power outages. The shelter was closed Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service also confirmed an EF-1 tornado near Cookeville.


Tips for filing insurance claims

(source: Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance)

  • File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame.
  • Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file a claim.Keep a diary of all conversations with insurance companies, creditors or relief agencies.
  • Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you can’t live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage.
  • Maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect.
  • Ask the adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • Be wary of contractors who demand upfront payment before work is initiated or payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, go with the contractor and pay the supplier directly.
  • Get more than one bid. Ask for at least three references. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance, and bonding. Use TDCI’s One-Stop Licensing App to verify licenses. Record the license plate number and driver’s license number of the contractor.
  • If you can’t cover all of your expenses, contact your creditors to negotiate a payment plan.
  • If there is a disagreement about a claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy if the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement.
  • If you believe you have been treated unfairly in getting a claim paid, contact TDCI to file a

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