High winds peel roof off three downtown businesses

After heavy storms came through Blount County Thursday afternoon, this roof drapes over the front of Tomato Head in Downtown Maryville.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

After heavy storms came through Blount County Thursday afternoon, this roof drapes over the front of Tomato Head in Downtown Maryville.

Afternoon storms peeled the roof off a downtown building Thursday afternoon.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Afternoon storms peeled the roof off a downtown building Thursday afternoon.

Photographer Jolanda Jansma snapped this photo as the storms rolled in to Blount County.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Photographer Jolanda Jansma snapped this photo as the storms rolled in to Blount County.

High winds lifted a massive portion of rooftop off a building in downtown Maryville when a fast moving thunderstorm passed through the area this afternoon.

The roof was peeled from the back of Van Metre School of Dance, Blount Finance and Maryville Computers. While the front of roof stayed attached, the back portion folded over onto the sidewalk in front of the businesses at or near 215 West Broadway Avenue.

An employee at the Tomato Head restaurant located beside Van Metre called 911 Emergency Communications operators at 2:13 p.m.

Linda Longmire with McCammon Ammons and Click Funeral Home was walking through a front parlor when the storm winds lifted the roof off the building directly across from the funeral home.

Longmire glanced out a window in time to see the roof being lifted off the building. “I saw the roof stand straight up. I thought it was a tornado. I thought the whole roof was going to come off but it laid over,” she said. “It was very scary.”

Steven L. Payne, who lives in an apartment in the downstairs of the building, was home when winds lifted the roof. “I heard a big crash,” he said. “It sounded like thunder.”

Capt. Steve Hammontree with the Maryville Fire Department said the same high winds that lifted the roof at 215 West Broadway blew through the fire department. “We had to close the bay doors,” he said.

The storm moved through downtown quickly. “It was real brief, maybe two or three minutes in duration. It was straight line winds,” he said. “There were no injuries, which is great.”

Van Metre School of Dance owner Amy Moore Morton said there is a tar roof under the roof that blew off, so the interior wasn’t open to the sky. At 4:10 p.m. a work crew was already removing the roof and insurance personnel were inspecting the damage.

“The fire marshal wanted it taken care off before dark. There’s a big crew here taking the roof off and they’ll put a tarp down to keep it safe. Tomorrow we make plans for putting on a new roof,” she said. “I’m just so grateful no one was hurt. We’ll get back to ballet Monday.”

Morton said the Maryville Fire Department responded immediately and personnel from the city also were on hand quickly. “They were right on it and very cooperative and helpful,” she said. “They got the power off and everything worked the way you want it to work.”

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