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Tornadoes ravage region

More than a dozen lives were lost in the Tri-Cities area last week when tornadoes ripped through the region.
Greene County and Glade Spring, Va., appear to have been hardest hit by the storms that moved through during the evening hours of April 27 and the early morning hours of April 28. However, southern Washington County, where one death was reported, also was badly hit as were some subdivisions in Gray.
According to authorities, one person was killed in the South Central community as the storm swept through, completely destroying several mobile homes in that area.
Douglas Penley died when his mobile home overturned on Guy Brown Road off of Highway 107 near the Greene County line.
According to Sheriff Ed Graybeal, an elderly woman in the same area is lucky to be alive after the storm ripped her bedroom from the rest of her mobile home. A relative reportedly found her outside a short time later and took her to the hospital.
Debbie and Jim Huff returned to their home around 2:30 a.m. on April 28 after leaving it just hours before when they heard a major storm was headed their way.
While the Huffs may have expected to find some damage to the mobile home they were renting at 1805 Corby Bridge Road in Chuckey, they hardly could have imagined just how bad it would be.
Splinters of wood and bent metal covered the ground where their home once stood, their belongings entwined with broken pieces of drywall and other construction material.
The kitchen sink sat atop the pile, their bathtub resting just a short distance away.
Not far away, Kathy and Bill Fellers were counting their lucky stars no one was hurt at their home on John McDonald Road.
A portion of the roof on their house was ripped off during the storms, and a mobile home on their property was completely removed from its foundation and destroyed. No one was living in the mobile home at the time.
Fallen trees limbs and entire trees lie strewn about the Fellers’ yard, many landing on their home, in their pool and on top of their vehicles.
In Gray, several neighborhoods woke up Thursday morning to assess the damage caused to homes and property, as that area saw multiple bouts of tornado-like weather touch down within just minutes of each other.
The first severe weather activity roared through parts of Washington County around 11 p.m. on April 27. Then, around 12:45 a.m. on April 28, a second round hit, causing most of the damage in the South Central area.
Teams moved into the hardest hit areas almost immediately to assess the damage caused by the storms while weather officials worked to determine whether the storms could be officially considered tornadoes.
The Town of Jonesborough remained relatively unharmed from last week’s weather event. However, town officials weren’t taking any chances in making sure residents knew a storm was coming.
A confirmed EF1 tornado touched down earlier in the month off of Headtown Road in the county. While no one was injured in that incident, town officials immediately went to work getting an old air raid system back up and running to warn residents of any future bouts of dangerous weather.
Officials put the sirens to use in Jonesborough last week as the storms moved into the region.
Many longtime residents of Washington County say this is the worst weather event to come through the region in decades.
Following the storm, Washington County was named among the counties in Tennessee to be put on a list to receive state and federal disaster relief.
— Scott Talbert contributed to this report.