Dave Williams cuts a section of a fallen oak tree on Dogwood Lane (Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
Estimated wind gusts of 65 mph punished portions of Washington County on Thursday, which could explain the likely hundreds of felled trees reported, including one that snapped in half and jerked down the power line feeding Tina Hill’s home on Holston Avenue as it fell.
“The wind was amazing,” Hill said Friday morning. “It just kept coming from a little after 2 (p.m.) until 4 o’clock. It was two hours of rain and wind.”
The tree that severed the power from her home at 1201 E. Holston Ave. was on a neighbor’s property, and she was across the road at her church when the storm hit.
The thunderstorms that hit Thursday originated from the Upper Midwest and traveled across the Northern Ohio Valley before reaching here.
After she left the church, Hill saw the tree down and the power off. Her husband shut off the main breaker and spent the night with a friend from church because they did not want to stay in a stuffy house with three small children.
“Actually, we were pretty lucky, I think, in comparison to what I saw,” Hill said.
Trees were down all over the city after the storm. Many of those trees contributed to the power outages of around 5,000 Johnson City Power Board customers.
One roughly 100-foot tall oak that was six feet in diameter crashed into a home on Dogwood Lane.
“It fell right on the front of the house and went on back,” said neighbor Cecil Crowe. “There’s not much left.”
J.T. McSpadden, Johnson City Power Board spokesman, said all but about 50 customers, not counting those who needed to hire an electrician to fix damage, had power by just before 9 a.m. Friday.
He anticipated those 50 customers would have power restored by Friday afternoon.
At most, around 5,000 customers were without power Thursday. Within a few hours after the storms passed, there were only about 1,500 customers with no juice.
The rest of the work involved going to breakers that needed to be worked on and fixing individual problems like broken utility poles.
McSpadden said it can take between three and six hours to reset a pole.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Sam Roberts said of the four rainfall reports the organization received from Washington County, the highest was 1.61 inches, southwest of Jonesborough.
An NWS preliminary report on the storm indicated that trees were toppled all over the area. Winds of 65 mph were reported in Washington County.
A funnel cloud was reported near Cosby in Sevier County and a team had been dispatched to assess the damage there.