Friday, August 22 2014, 02:32 PM EDT
Storms Wreak Havoc in Two Counties
People are beginning to rebuild and cleanup from the damage left behind by Wednesday's severe thunderstorms.
Just north of the NewsChannel9 viewing area, officials say more than a hundred homes and businesses were destroyed - and even golfball-sized hail caused massive structural damage.
Buildings caved in, homes were damaged, and trees toppled on cars. Crews spent Thursday working to pick up all the mess in the small town of Philadelphia in Loudon county.
"I'm kind of stunned that it happened, it's hard to believe that wind can do that because you look back there at those trees and they've completely been torn out of the ground," said resident Bill Thompson.
Thompson lives in downtown Philadelphia where his car is now smashed. He wasn't home when the storm struck, but his 94-year-old father was.
"It could have been a lot worse and thank God that it wasn't," said Thompson.
In Monroe county, a couple was inside when a large tree fell on their home. And closer to home in Bradley county, lightning struck a home, causing a fire - all while a family of four was inside.
The national weather service was in Loudon and Monroe counties Thursday assessing all the damage.
"The wind speeds being 85 to 90 miles per hour were almost as strong as an EF1 tornado but still very significant causing quite a bit of damage," said Anthony Cavalluci from the National Weather Service.
And though there will likely be a long road to recovery, residents says it's brought them all closer.
"I've noticed that neighbors and people are going and helping each other so it's really showed the unity of the small town," said Thompson.