published Monday, February 28th, 2011

Man killed when storm destroys trailer

  • photo
    A worker walks on the roof of a damaged home on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. A large tree was blown onto the house when storms went through the area Thursday night. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A storm system that walloped a wide swath of Tennessee killed a man Monday in Franklin County, toppled huge trees onto houses at Signal Mountain and flooded streets in Knoxville, authorities say.

A Franklin County Sheriff's Department spokesman said Melvin Hambrick, 79, was killed when the storm pinned him under a trailer in the northern part of the county Monday afternoon. A woman who was injured at the same location was transported by air to a hospital, he said.

"I don't know if it was a tornado or straight line wind but whatever it was beat us up pretty good," Sgt. Chris Guess said. He said trees and power lines were down and a car lot "had a lot of damage."

In Hamilton County, wind uprooted huge trees on Signal Mountain and in Red Bank.

"Major power lines are down and huge old trees have destroyed several homes," emergency services spokeswoman Amy Maxwell said. She said emergency workers rescued a man who was trapped inside a house by a downed tree.

She said no serious injuries were reported in the storm-battered areas around Chattanooga.

"We've been very lucky," Maxwell said.

In Knoxville, heavy rain fell Monday morning and afternoon, flooding streets, basements and backyards. Volunteer Boulevard was temporarily impassable at the University of Tennessee, and Broadway at Interstate 640 was a trouble spot where most vehicles could not get through and some people had to be rescued.

No serious injuries were reported.

In Polk County, a dispatcher said a tree fell on a house in the Old Fort area and deputies found a man inside dead but weren't sure that the storm caused the death. He said details were not immediately available. The storm system exited the state by late afternoon.

"We dodged a major bullet not to have more major damage or more fatalities," said Jeremy Heidt, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Nashville.

National Weather Service meteorologist Bobby Boyd in Nashville said the storms were being pushed by a front that was expected to drop temperatures by 40 degrees by Tuesday morning.

"When I came in the morning at 4 a.m., I had 71 degrees on the thermometer in my truck," Boyd said. "The airport's got 58 now (at noon) and the high tomorrow will be 57. The low tonight will be 32."

Dean Fleenor, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said the state command center in Nashville had not been activated, but the agency was monitoring weather developments.

Flash flooding was widespread across the central part of the state. There were reports of trees and power lines down in the Dover area northwest of Nashville. There was also a report of wind damage north of Fredonia, which is near Manchester.

By noon, most of the rain had cleared West Tennessee.

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February 28, 2011 at 7:31 p.m.
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