Thursday, October 15, 2009
Storm packs sudden punch
By SUE WATSON
A seasonal thunderstorm packing high straight-line winds picked spots in Holly Springs Friday to take down big trees, power lines and utility poles.
The storm hit around noon and was out of town after knocking out electricity to downtown and in some of the subdivisions.
The winds dipped down as the storm crossed North Memphis Street, shaking the roofing on Annie’s Restaurant, turning up a huge oak tree near the Multi-Purpose Building, and hopping over to Spring Hollow Park and knocking out service to the city’s water treatment plant, according to John Collins, Holly Springs Utility Department general manager. The winds dipped down again in the Randolph Street and Salem Avenue area and at the Holly Springs High School campus, messing up a roof at the corner of Randolph and Salem and blowing off a roof on North Chesterman.
Utility poles were snapped near Holly High and classes were dismissed early due to the power outage.
Although trees were downed in the neighborhood near the school, one resident felt their fall was pitched by the Creator causing them to miss homes and vehicles and do little damage to property.
Betty Pearl Moore was standing in her kitchen watching the Channel 3 weather when the reporter said there was rotation in Holly Springs.
Moore said she quickly went to the hallway closet, her safety spot and heard the typical freight-train sound.
“It was over at 10 minutes after 12,” she said. “I looked outside and was shocked to see four of Mrs. (Mary Lou) Jones’ pecan trees uprooted.”
Wind rolled up the roof over Moore’s carport and water poured in on the carpet in the den, she said.
Some large trees were also downed in the Cedar Hills subdivision and power was out at Marshall Academy, in the Holly Springs Commons area and at the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority area, according to Bill Mobley with IDA. Power was restored to the area sometime after 3 p.m., he said.
Downtown, power was lost immediately at The South Reporter but was restored within about an hour. Across the square, power to businesses was not restored that soon, according to reports.
Collins said power was restored to the Spring Hollow area by 9 p.m. There were outages in the Ashland and Laws Hill area as well that were restored by 9 p.m. Friday, he said.
Although the storm knocked out power to the wells and treatment plants at Spring Hollow, workers quickly restored power to that critical part of the city’s infrastructure, thanks to the quick action of HSUD’s George Humphreys and water department employees, Collins said. The power was restored so quickly at the water well that there was no need to issue a boil water announcement, he said.
The timing of the storm was also beneficent, Collins said, hitting at noon when all workers were on the job instead of coming after closing hours.
Collins praised his workers and city workers in general.
“Our crews did an excellent job, very professional and I’m proud of the way they responded to get the lights back on quickly,” he said.
Power in the Holly Springs High School area, however, was not restored until close to noon Saturday, due to the amount of damage there.
Hugh Hollowell, emergency management coordinator for the county, said very little damage was noted elsewhere in the county.
“It was nothing spectacular,” he said. “Some trees were down but there were no reports of personal damage other than in the city. We mostly dodged the bullet again.”
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