‘Tornado-like’ wrath

Residents near Northshore Drive, Choto, Harvey roads hit hard

Bumper-to-bumper traffic crept past along Northshore Drive at The Cove at Concord Park late Sunday afternoon, May 28, as drivers tried to get a glimpse of the damage left by a Saturday night storm labeled “a derecho” by the National Weather Service that slammed homes along Northshore, Choto Road and Harvey Road especially hard.

Onlookers were held back at The Cove because of a downed transformer and electric lines, said Wendell Kirkland, Knox County Parks employee. He estimated about 60 trees had been snapped in two and that it will take county crews with saws, dump trucks, Bobcats and back hoes about two weeks to have the park back in order.

"It will be shut down for at least two weeks," he said. "We've lost benches and tables, half the playground, half the volleyball court. The beach was affected, of course. We have sidewalk asphalt torn up from the roots on the trees."

The wind was strong enough to pull the posts supporting the roof of The Cove's main building out of the concrete and then set them back down, Kirkland said. In addition, a tree landed across the roof of the concession stand at the ball field across the road, but the damage didn't appear to be substantial.

"The building and the pavilion were the only things that were saved," he said.

Just a couple minutes away from The Cove, huge mounds of limbs already dotted the streets of Choto Fields.

The damage was dramatic on Harvey Road. "We think it was a twister because the trees are twisted," said Valerie Rule as she and her husband, Bob, estimated losing about 40 trees — at least one huge tree [photo above].

Cody Rule said he was home with friends when the storm hit about 11:15 p.m. “First we heard trees cracking. … When we went to look in the backyard and the lightning struck, it lit up the whole backyard,” he said.

“We dug out the car," Bob Rule said.

"There were four trees on that car," Valerie said.

Montgomery Cove resident Rhonda Bostick said downed trees caused problems. “Three couples who live in or near my subdivision had to search for a way to their homes and found lots of obstacles,” she said. “It took each of them more than one hour to get home from the Watt Road exit.”

Bostick added her next door neighbors believe the storm was a tornado. “These people have lived in a region that’s known as Tornado Alley,” she said. “They know what a tornado is. Other neighbors were saying that the sound was like a freight train.”