Storm kills two, leaves thousands without power
By Iva Butler (email@example.com)
Two people were killed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and at one time two-thirds of the Alcoa Electric customers were without power by the storm that swept through the valley starting at approximately 6 p.m. Thursday.
The officials have
identified the victims as Ralph Frazier, 50, of Buford, Georgia and Rachael Burkhart, 41, from
The storm resulted in significant tree fall in a line stretching from Metcalf Bottoms, across Cades Cove, to Abrams Creek. There were multiple emergency incidents with trapped campers.
Frazier was the victim of a motorcycle accident that occurred approximately ½ mile east of the Townsend Y. He was reportedly hit by a falling tree, according to park spokesperson Melissa Cobern.
Burkhart was in the Abrams Creek area when she was struck
by a falling tree. She was part of a group of people trapped at the Abrams Creek swimming hole when
the storm struck, topping a tree that fell onto them. In addition to Burkhart's death, a 7-year-old
girl was trapped beneath the surface; although unresponsive after being pulled from the water, CPR
was performed, and she was revived. Both of her parents were injured as well; her father was
transported by helicopter to UT Medical Center, and her mother was taken by
There are also reports of multiple other injuries as a result of the storm.
Ambulances were sent to Cades Cove for three injuries and one cardiac incident.
There are currently many trees down on both the Little River and Laurel Creek Roads. One lane of each road was cleared for emergency vehicles The Cades Cove and Abrams Creek areas have also received significant tree fall. National Park Service crews have swept all roads in storm-damaged areas to identify stranded motorists and those in need of medical attention.
Emergency crews from Blount County are assisting National Park Service crews in the area of the Townsend Y and at Abrams Creek.
Troy Morgan, Alcoa Electric service supervisor, said “last night was rough. We’ve still got several hundred customers without power. The power was off in every neighborhood — nobody was spared.”
Alcoa lost eight breakers and a couple of times had 9,200 customers out at one time, which is a third of their 27,650 customer system.
“We may have all the power back on by really late tonight or Saturday,” he said. “We’re down to ones and twos.”
“We had three Wolfe (Tree Service) contract crews working all night,” Morgan said.
“We had everybody we could find except people on vacation and two of them came in,” he added.
“The storm cut a swath right up the heart of our distribution system Wildwood, Eagleton Village and the North side of the county (primarily). although every area was affected,” he added.
Chief Ronnie Suttles said "the roads are just passable, and that's about it right now." There were
trees down over all streets and most were opened around midnight. Still many trees on buildings
and houses. Power is out sporadically. Sevier County Electric has been working through the night
and will continue working today on cleanup.
The Mary E. Tippitt Memorial Library was
having a book sale in the IGA parking lot. The winds blew the tent over and injured Mr. and Mrs.
Charles Tippitt who had to be treated at the hospital. The books were also soaked and