GATLINBURG (WATE) – High winds ripped through Gatlinburg Thursday, downing trees, and power lines. One person was taken to LeConte Medical Center and treated for injuries sustained due to a tree falling on a house.
The Sevier County Electric System reported approximately 12,000 customers lost power. Dollywood closed their parks at 2:00 p.m. due to strong winds and severe weather.
A tree fell on a house in Alcoa in Blount County around 1 p.m. but no one was injured.
Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, Pi Beta Phi and Pittman Center Elementary schools all let parents pick up students from schools. Buses were not running at any of the three schools, but students were taken home in county-owned four-wheel drive vehicles when necessary.
Dr. Debra Cline, Sevier County Schools assistant superintendent, said there was significant damage to the roof of the Gatlinburg-Pittman High School’s gym as well as other parts of the school.
At Camp LeConte, a campground near Gatlinburg-Pittman High School a tree fell on a tent and there were downed power lines throughout the campground. Many at the campground said the storms gave them flashbacks of the fires in November.
“It definitely brings back memories. This is how it was,” said Lindzey Nicely, owner of Camp LeConte. “I got back to the campground probably around 10:30 and my husband told me to park in the middle of the campground and run into the camp store and from then trees started falling all around us.”
Nearby, Hidden Hills Road was impassable due to downed trees and power lines, leaving people trapped in their homes.
“We had a tree fall over the driveway but it took the power lines with it so right now we don’t know if the power lines are live or not so we can’t cut the tree out,” said Joshua Albritton. “We called Sevier County Electric right away but they basically said we’re so busy right now we’ll get to you when we can and I also called the Gatlinburg Fire Department and they said the same thing.”