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Today is Thursday, May 5, 2016

Storm slams historic district

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Madalyn Mason slept through the century-old oak tree falling from her front yard into East Liberty Avenue Thursday afternoon, but her stepchildren didn't.

"It sounded like lightning struck pretty closely," Mason, a nurse who works night shifts at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Tipton, said. "I didn't even hear it."

The oak tree was one of a pair flanking the stone steps that led from the sidewalk to their front of their circa 1900 home. It is estimated the trees are well over 100 years old as well. When the tree fell, it landed across the road, which is State Route 54 and leads to the east side of the historic court square.

It took the power, cable and Internet with it. Meanwhile, on the square, the roof came off of Something Special, damaging the cars parked below.

It has been reported that the old Baddour building at Liberty and North Main and Bishop's Ballroom sustained roof damage as well.

Power outages plagued most of the county Thursday and some residents – like those on East Liberty – were still without power well into Friday evening while crews worked to remove trees and repair lines.

Covington-Tipton County Emergency Management Agency Director Tommy Dunavant said straight-line winds are responsible for the extensive damage.

"Of course, we've been hit three days in a row now," he said. "On Saturday afternoon we were hit pretty hard in the northeast area of the county, around Hwy. 14 and 179."

The storm was another low blow in a year that's been difficult for public safety and public works officials. An ice storm in March nearly crippled the county for a week. Damage estimates are still being calculated, Dunavant said, but might being about a disaster area declaration.

"We're working on the numbers and we have to turn it into the state," he said. "Other areas of the state saw damage from these storms as well, so we're not sure what FEMA will do."

Dunavant said there were no deaths or injuries caused by the storm. "We're very lucky for that, especially on the square in Covington where there were 10-12 cars damaged when that roof came off."

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