BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Midnight struck with a bang overnight as thunder and lightning announced the arrival of a storm that downed trees across the county.
The electrical storm began at least an hour earlier, with rain and hard winds following.
Thousands of customers lost power for portions of the night, and some continued to be without power this morning.
"We had extensive storms, as everybody knows," said Bill Carroll, Greeneville Light & Power System General Manager. "At the worst of it, we had about 4,000 customers out."
After restoring power to most of these customers, another round of nearly 2,000 customers lost power about 7 a.m. in the Nolichucky area, he added.
By 8 a.m., Carroll said that number had been reduced to fewer than 500 customers.
"It blew through here pretty doggone hard," he said. "Our guys have been at it since shortly after midnight. Of course they'll stay at it until they get it fixed."
MANY TREES DOWN
The Greene County Highway Department and the Greeneville Public Works Department had much the same story to tell -- a long night clearing trees with a long day ahead.
Inside the Greeneville city limits, Public Works Supervisor J.H. Wilhoit reported at least seven roads where teams were working to clear debris.
Greene County Road Superintendent David Weems said he could not remember in his time in office this many trees down from a thunderstorm in such a widespread area.
While Pigeon Creek Road, off the Newport Highway, was about the worst of the damage he had seen, he said there were also a "few bad places" in Chuckey.
Although calls continued rolling in just before 9 a.m., he could already report a total of about 30 roads that had trees or limbs down overnight.
"It's been a while, outside of the tornadoes, from just a regular storm. It's been a few years," he said. "One good thing, we got some rain out of it."
Greene County received almost two inches of rain, 1.8 inches, according to the University of Tennessee Research & Education Center at Greeneville, located on East Allens Bridge Road.
The Greeneville Sun also received a report this morning that a tree had fallen at 125 West Allens Bridge Road, striking the end of a house and crushing two vehicles.
The National Weather Service in Morristown reported that more thunderstorms are likely over the next few days, mainly in the afternoons and evenings.
That weather outlook has not stopped festivities at Kinser Park, however, where plans for July 4 and July 7 are reportedly still on schedule despite numerous trees downed at the park.
"We will do the best we can and focus on guest areas first," Park Manager Rex Oster said in a news release about today's cleanup.
"You may see some downed trees, but that shouldn't stop the fun," Oster said.
Anyone interested in volunteering in the cleanup at the park may call 525-1240. Activity discount coupons will be distributed to volunteers, according to the release.