Thousands in region still without power

Thousands in region still without power

June 20th, 2011 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

One of several large trees downed during a storm on Saturday afternoon is seen Sunday near the Wilder Tower in the Chickamauga National Military Park. The tower was undamaged and open to the public on Sunday.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Thousands of households in North Georgia and Southeast Tennessee still were without power Sunday night after a fast-moving thunderstorm tore through the region Saturday afternoon.

"My wife and I went on a dinner date and came back to a big surprise," said Wiley Brown, a Chickamauga, Ga., resident whose home and truck were in the way when a 35-year-old hackberry tree in his neighbor's yard fell, snapping power and telephone lines.

The North Georgia Electric Membership Cooperative reported 9,000 homes were without power Sunday night, a significant decrease from 20,000 the day before.

At least 30 power poles were broken during the storm by falling tree limbs, and officials say some outages may last till Tuesday.

Twenty crews, including those from NGEMC, are working to restore power to affected areas.

"Crews will continue to work until power is restored to all customers," said Jeff Rancudo, a spokesman for NGEMC.

More than 500 EPB customers were without power on and around Lookout Mountain on Sunday night, but lights should be back by this morning, said Danna Bailey, a spokeswoman for EPB.

In Marion County, where homes and businesses in South Pittsburg and New Hope were battered by speeding winds, only a few homes are still dark, a dispatcher said. Power crews worked all night to restore power to Kimball and Jasper.

Winds flipped a camper in a used car lot in South Pittsburg, the dispatcher said.

Many downed trees littered Chickaumaga and Chattanooga National Military Park on Saturday night, but cleanup crews worked into the night to clear trees from walking trails. The park opened on time Sunday morning, said park ranger Hugh Odom.

"By the afternoon, everything was clear," he said.

But for some, cleanup will be rougher.

Chickaumaga resident Al Creamer said a 130-foot tree that dated back to the Civil War fell in his yard, missing his home by six feet.

He's thankful the home wasn't crushed, but he said his family is sad to lose the historic tree.

"I was extremely bummed," he said. "It was a beautiful old tree, and it was one of the selling points when I bought the house four years ago."