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Storms cause downed trees, outages

By Lucinda Leonard

Special to The Press

A powerful straight-line windstorm made its path, which stretched from the state line to Bradford Friday evening, causing numerous power outages as trees toppled with the wind. John Worrell, assistant director of the City of Martin Public Works department said, “Friday at any given time there were 5 to 10 streets completely blocked by trees and branches with power lines wrapped inside them. Ninety percent of the town had limbs and trees on their property with K Street taking the blunt of the damage.”

Worrell added, “If you didn’t have tree damage, then you didn’t have trees.” In his 14 years with the Martin Public Works Department, he said he has “never seen damage like this.”

Within the first few hours of the storm, about 7,000 Weakley County Municipal Electric System customers were without power across the county. Linemen worked long hours throughout the evening to restore power to customers and as of Sunday night at 10 p.m. around five customers reportedly had no electricity.

W.C.M.E.S General Manager Faron Collins noted the outside employees (linemen) worked their eight-hour shift, in addition to 26 more hours, Friday. As the storm system hit the region, the northern half of the county had the most damage as reported by Collins.

Collins said he wants to thank all WCMES customers for their patience, along with the employees who worked tireless hours throughout the weekend.

Weakley County Emergency Management Director Dustin Kemp reported there were approximately 10 homes with minor damage and two homes with moderate damage and reported no significant injuries.

In Sharon, the old service station on the corner of Main Street had inside wind damage from a wall that had collapsed due to the strong winds.

According to reports, every time a tree went down, it had wires in it.

Weakley County Fire Chief Jamie Summers and Kemp noted the tree damage was mostly due to hollow trees. A hollow tree would be found in older trees and is a semi-enclosed cavity that has naturally formed in the trunk or branch of a tree. Strong winds can force the collapse of hollow trees and mature branches to break.

Moving forward, homeowners have the opportunity to assess their trees in an effort to prevent being uprooted during another future windstorm.

Worrell said he and Martin Mayor Randy Brundige were getting a game plan together for cleanup throughout the City of Martin.

According to an official public service announcement issued by Martin officials, they are working to cleanup the damage, but this isn’t a fast process. The city public works crew will be assisting Republic Services with brush and limb pickup in the next few weeks. City streets with extensive damage and fallen trees will be closed during the cleanup and will reopen as soon as possible.

Weakley County Emergency Management Agency offers a free, text messaging alert service that local residents can sign up for by texting their zip code to 888777. This service provides alerts for weather, natural disasters and threats to public safety, such as nuclear and bomb threats.

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