Violent Storms Slam Smokies, 2 Fatalities Reported
At least two people in the Great Smoky Mountains are dead and several injured as a results of a violent late-afternoon storm Thursday (July 5) that snapped or blew down hundreds of trees onto East Tennessee streets and houses, tossed boats like toys in a marina, knocked out power to more than 50,000 households and left visitors to the national park stranded, the Knoxville Sentinel reported.
There have been two confirmed fatalities as a result of the storm, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park said in a statement late Thursday.
A man died in a motorcycle accident that occurred a half mile east of the Townsend Wye. A 41 year-old woman in the Abrams Creek area was struck by a falling tree. While both victims have been identified, their names were not released, pending notification of next of kin.
There are also reports of multiple injuries as a result of the storm, the park service said. Ambulances were sent to Cades Cove for three injuries and one cardiac incident, according to a park news release. Three individuals in the Abrams Creek area were also injured. One was transported to the hospital by ambulance and two others by helicopter.
Park rangers and other area emergency personnel summoned on a mutual aid basis were dealing with the injured, according to park spokeswoman Melissa Cobern. Rangers have swept roads in the ginat park looking for motorists trapped in their vehicles or stranded campers, their task slowed by downed trees and limbs in roadways.
Rangers will continue to work Friday to ensure all visitors and staff are accounted for and begin to assess needs for emergency response in the park’s backcountry, the park service said.
Cades Cove, the sublime former settlement that annually draws millions of visitors, was among the most seriously impacted parts of the Smokies. Many cove visitors were still on vacation for the Fourth of July holiday.
"We're calling all hands on deck," said Deputy Park Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald, including staff as far away as North Carolina.
Fitzgerald estimated at least a dozen people suffered injuries in the park.
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