KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Straight line winds left a Memorial Day Weekend mess in East Tennessee.
“This Choto road area was probably the worst hit on our system,” Shannon Littleton, General Manager of LCUB, said. “The high winds started immediately at 10:30. It was about five minutes after that and we started getting reports of severe damage.”
Strong storms knocked down trees and shut off power for thousands of people in Knox County, alone.
The Cove at Concord Park got hit particularly hard, with uprooted trees and scattered debris forcing its closure.
West Knox County saw some of the brunt of the storm damage, with downed power lines and trees making a large portion of Choto Road inaccessible.
The damage was so severe that East Tennessee Authorities had to activate emergency operation centers. The Knox County Sheriff’s office had to rescue between 15 and 20 people along Choto Road overnight who were trapped by debris.
“I haven’t seen it this bad since the Winter of ’93 when we had the blizzard of 93,” Rick Harkleroad said. “The rain really picked up the wind picked up and we had the big burst. It shook the home, and we knew there was something going on.”
William Clements agrees that he’s never storm damage quite this bad on Choto.
“This is one of the worst sets of damage I’ve seen in a long time,” he said. “I probably have 50-60 trees broken down on my 5.2 acres.”
Hailee Henningsen said her extended family was visiting over the holiday weekend and had to stay an extra night because a tree fell across their car.
“It kind of happened all of a sudden,” she said. “We saw on the radar that the storm was coming and we were moving stuff in and it just started pouring down rain and it was really windy.”
LCUB crews have been working around the clock to restore power in West Knox County. The storm broke 30 power poles in the area, eight just on Choto Road, making clean up an especially grueling task for utility workers.
“This is one of those events that only come around so often, and not very often,” Littleton said. “We hopefully won’t see it again but it’s been a difficult time for us we’ll try our best to get powered restored.”