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EF-1 tornado hits Tullahoma, Moore County spared

Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 4:59 pm

The yard of this home at 1907 Country Club Drive in Tullahoma shows the devastation of Tuesday night’s tornado damage. Every tree in the front yard is either sheared off or blown down from the wind force of the EF-1 tornado. According to public records, the home is owned by Adeline David. –Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

The yard of this home at 1907 Country Club Drive in Tullahoma shows the devastation of Tuesday night’s tornado damage. Every tree in the front yard is either sheared off or blown down from the wind force of the EF-1 tornado. According to public records, the home is owned by Adeline David.
–Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. — An EF-1 tornado, with an estimated peak wind speed of 105 miles per hour, struck Tullahoma Tuesday night (Nov. 29), wreaking extensive damage to several homes and uprooting and snapping hundreds of trees for eight miles.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS), about 9:05 p.m. the tornado touched down just inside the Coffee County line west of Tullahoma.

It tracked through the north side of the city, crossing over State Route 16/Jackson Street, damaging several businesses. It then moved across Lakewood Golf and Country Club and Lake Tullahoma Estates neighborhoods. The majority of the structural damage in these neighborhoods was due to downed trees.

NOAA reports that one person sustained a minor injury when a tree fell on a car.

Once the tornado crossed Lake Tullahoma, it lifted just before Cherry Springs Road.

Second circulation strikes near Manchester

NWS also reports that a new circulation formed east/southeast of the first tornado about 9:29 p.m. and touched down just southeast of Manchester. Although it was not on the ground for long, several dozen trees were snapped and uprooted, and several barns and outbuildings were heavily damaged. A one-story long cabin house was picked up off the foundation and moved six to eight feet off the center, with most of the house still fully intact.

There were approximately 250 power outages in Manchester, according to Michael Millraney, manager of Duck River Electric Membership Corp.’s Manchester district. Millraney said all power was restored by ap-proximately 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

“It really didn’t hurt us too awfully badly,” Millraney said. “The storm came over Manchester too, so we were really fortunate.”

City of Tullahoma officials, Coffee County Emergency Management Agency and first responders met Wednesday afternoon to take stock of the damage in Tullahoma and evaluate the conditions of roads and residents as of Wednesday.

During the meeting, several city officials stated how, overall, the town was lucky, and that all departments involved are well-equipped to help those affected clean up.

According to Coffee County Emergency Management Agency Director Allen Lendley, several structures in the city suffered damage.

“On Country Club Drive we had two major houses damaged, five minor and five affected,” he said.

“On Courtside Lane we had one affected. Lake Circle Drive had four affected — one major and one minor. On Point Circle we had two affected and two minor. Then with businesses, we had one that were affected and two that had minor damage. With public buildings we had one minor and one affected.”

Though Lendley had the comprehensive breakdown of structures affected in the Lakewood Golf and Country Club area, he did caution that there were some areas that he and his team could not get to due to debris that had fallen on roadways.

His earliest estimation was that they would be able to get to them yesterday morning or afternoon, and they would report to the city once they were able to investigate those other areas.

Fire Department Response

Tullahoma Fire Department Chief Richard Shasteen said that his crews were on an “all-call” status through most of Tuesday night, but he was able to send some of his crews home at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“We worked with public works pretty much all day on road clearing with our saws,” he said of their primary work throughout Wednesday.

Shasteen said he was thankful for the Manchester Fire Department for sending over two extra saws to assist in the road clearing, as the extra saws for TFD were in Gatlinburg assisting the wildfires ravaging much of the Smoky Mountains.

That crew arrived back Wednesday night, he said.

Additionally, Shasteen thanked the Moore County Fire Department for sending a Gator “to assist in getting people out of areas where we couldn’t get regular vehicles.”

Shasteen noted that they did have one person trapped in a house on Sullivan Lane off Carter Blake Road.

“We couldn’t even cut the trees down because of the way they all fell in there.”

He said that the man they rescued was on oxygen and the woman had just had a heart attack last week, so that ended with two people needing to be rehabilitated, though he added that their son was able to come pick them up.

Within the city limits, he said, TFD was on an all-call status with the Coffee County Emergency Medical Service through Wednesday night, due to the all the debris that rests in between the road and people’s houses.

Volunteer efforts

Those wishing to help volunteer are asked to contact Alicia Bell, director of United Way of Coffee and Moore Counties, who is the point of contact for anyone wishing to assist in any volunteer efforts, according to Tullahoma Police Department Chief Paul Blackwell.

Bell spoke at the meeting as a representative of the Salvation Army.

“They have disaster relief funds that are available,” Bell said.

“Those funds are available to anyone out there who needs food or water or coffee, for those who are out there working around the clock. So, basically, just contact me if you need those funds,” she said.

“It’s easier if we can write a check directly to Wal-Mart or Subway,” she gave as examples.

“Secondly,” she said, “As far as volunteers go, we are willing to facilitate a volunteer day when it’s safe for those volunteers to be out and when we are aware of some homes and areas where volunteers would be equipped to handle the damage in a safe manner. As long as I am aware of those areas, we are happy to take that list and then facilitate a location for them to gather and gather the resources necessary for them to go out in the community and do some work.”

—By ERIN McCULLOUGH, Tullahoma News Staff Writer

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