By Angie A. Gambill
The storm that hit Johnson and Carter counties last Friday evening put residents in mind of the tornado five years ago that took two lives and did extensive property damage. However, according to the National Weather Service, last weekend’s storm was not a tornado, but is described as a widespread downburst event.
Also reminiscent of 2011, this storm’s intensity was centered in the Doe Valley and Butler areas of Johnson County as well as adjoining Carter County. The Fish Springs area was especially hard hit.
A husband and wife camping along Watauga Lake were killed when the top of a large tree was blown onto their campsite. According to Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford, Hampton residents John Paul and Robin Mathes were both pronounced dead at the scene in the Fish Springs community.
Property damage was devastating and although no estimates are available at this time, the figure will undoubtedly soar as damage assessments are conducted by the property assessor’s office.
As of Monday, just over 100 residents are still without power in Johnson County. Mountain Electric and other crews are continuing to work to get power restored to those residents.
Manpower and equipment from the Tennessee Department of Corrections, Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Division of Forestry arrived on Monday to assist the Johnson County Highway Department in clearing debris from roads. As part of the support of this cleanup, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is in Johnson County working with local emergency personnel.
For the rest of the story and more storm damage photos, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.