Severe storms rolled through Bell County and much of the surrounding areas late Wednesday night, carving a path of damaged properties along the way. Several people in the county were left without power throughout the night and into Thursday afternoon.
Bell County Emergency Director Ben Barnett said two of the harder hit areas in were Brownies Creek and Mason Hill. At a residence in Brownies Creek, Barnett said a 96-feet long, 18-feet wide and 20-feet tall shed was uprooted and thrown over an embankment.
Barnett also said a carport on Mason Hill was thrown over the owner’s house during the storm. In downtown Pineville, eight vendor tents set up for the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival were tossed around by the violent winds.
At Bella Gardens in Middlesboro, the roofs on several apartments suffered shingle damage. A utility pole was also blown over in the storm, leaving many residents without power throughout the night and early morning hours. Trees were also blown over in the community during the storm.
Barnett said several areas throughout the county acquired minimal damage. At one point during the night on Wednesday, Kentucky Utilities reported over 1,000 customers without power in Bell County.
Barnett said he believes straight-line winds are responsible for the damage caused by the storms, but he plans to send photos to the National Weather Service for confirmation.
In neighboring Claiborne County, Tenn., the town of Cumberland Gap was also hit hard by strong storms.
Cumberland Gap Mayor Bill McGaffee said the majority of the trees that were uprooted or knocked over were between houses or buildings.
According to David Breeding, director of Claiborne County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the storm that came through wasn’t a tornado but very strong, circular winds. There was also damage in the Harrogate and Shawanee areas.
The town was the scene of a massive clean up Thursday as the Powell Valley Electric Company, AT&T, MediaStream and trustees from the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department worked together and with others to clear the streets of debris and restore power, phone service and cable service.
Anthony Cloud can be contacted at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN.