A path of destruction was left behind after severe storms and a tornado swept through Claiborne County Sunday evening.
The tornado, which touched down in Speedwell around 6:30 p.m., was determined by the National Weather Service to be an F3 tornado, with winds reaching around 140 mph.
“We have 10 homes in Claiborne County that are totally destroyed,” said David Breeding, director of the Claiborne County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, adding that several homes in neighboring Campbell County were destroyed or damaged as well.
As of Monday, he did not have an estimate of the number of homes in Claiborne that were damaged. His team was to assess that on Tuesday.
One of the homes destroyed Sunday belongs to Sheriff David Ray.
“Wayne Lee called me around 6 p.m. and told me to get in the basement,” said Ray, adding that Lee had seen weather radar indicating the strong line of storms was headed directly for Ray’s home.
Ray and his wife Pat got her mother and they went to the basement, where he said he laid on top of them to protect them from debris.
“The whole thing lasted about three minutes,” he said. “When I realized the worst was over we went upstairs to see the devastation. I thank God we weren’t injured; I have a few scratches, but nothing bad.”
He and his wife are staying at their farmhouse for now, he added. He was at his house on Monday, trying to salvage what he could from the ruins.
“I’ve been overwhelmed with calls from people wanting to help, and I thank everyone for their concern,” he said.
Just down the hill from Ray, D & P Grocery was located on Old Hwy. 63. Owner Patsy Pierce was by herself in her house, which was attached to the store, when she heard a pop and loud noises. She took shelter in a bathtub.
“I don’t know how long it lasted, but it felt like forever,” she said.
The wall behind the bathtub separates the bathroom from a bedroom, which sustained the most damage in her home.
The store was completely destroyed.
Pierce said she isn’t sure what she will do next; she’s been there since 1971, but doesn’t know if she’ll be able to ever get back in her home. For the time being she is staying with her daughter.
Many friends, family members and church members helped her Sunday night and Monday, salvaging everything possible.
County commissioner David Mundy lives near the devastated area and represents that district.
“It missed us, but we watched it go through,” he said.
Mundy was in the area Monday, assisting where needed.
Although the tornado left a devastating path, no shelter was set up, according to Breeding.
“We sent people door to door to check on them Sunday and everyone was going to family, friends or neighbors to stay so we didn’t need to set one up,” he said.
He added that the American Red Cross is on standby in case a shelter is needed. The Red Cross disaster relief team was out on Monday, delivering snacks and drinks to those working in the area.
The area was packed with emergency personnel, utility personnel and volunteers.
Breeding asks that anyone who has damage or any needs such as food or shelter as the result of the storms call his office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
He also asks that if you have even minor damage, such as to a roof, call and report it.
“We might be able to get them help,” he said. “We have volunteers just waiting to get to work.”
The office number is 423-626-9617.
Marisa Anders may be reached at 423-626-3222 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.