Tree takes out power lines, vehicles in Norton

Mike Still • Apr 19, 2019 at 7:25 PM

NORTON — A toppled tree Friday left 49 customers without electricity, blocked a street for more than five hours and totaled three vehicles.

However, no one was hurt in the incident, which happened around 10:30 a.m. in the 200 block of Eleventh Street NW.

Resident Matt Redman said he had been sleeping after work when he heard a loud noise across the street from his home.

“I heard a bang, got up and looked outside and called 911,” Redman said as he watched city workers and Old Dominion Power crews that afternoon clearing debris, repairing damaged utility poles and rigging new power lines.

What Redman and others in the neighborhood saw after the noise and the power outage was an approximately 70-foot-tall tree that snapped off in the front yard of a house owned by Scott Addison and blocked Eleventh Street across its entire width.

The tree damaged two vehicles belonging to Addison’s sister-in-law and her mother-in-law and another resident’s vehicle parked across the street.

Addison, a Norton City Schools administrator, found out about the incident while at work.

“I got a call saying the tree fell,” Addison said as he watched the clearing and repair work with family members. “I thought it was a joke at first.”

Addison said the ground around the tree’s base had risen about two feet higher than normal, although the roots were not pulled out of the ground.

“It pulled the meter box off the side of the house,” Addison said. “It could have been worse, and I’m glad no one was injured. I’m impressed how fast the city’s crews started removing the tree.”

Norton Police Chief James Layne said the tree appeared to have totaled all three vehicles that it struck.

Layne said he was not sure what caused the tree to snap.

David Hotz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Morristown office, said that high winds with gusts of 35-40 miles per hour had been forecast for the Norton area around the time of the fall.

Layne said he had not determined if wind or heavy rains that morning and Thursday night were responsible.

Gerald Lawson, an Old Dominion Power crew supervisor, said the tree pulled power and utility lines down about a block south of the fall, loosened at least one pole and snapped off the top of another on the same side of the street as the tree stump.

Power was cut to customers along Tenth and Eleventh streets in the northwest section of the city, Lawson said, and the outage extended to customers as far south as the Laurel Avenue and High Knob areas and to the Hoot Owl Hollow area near Powell Valley.

Lawson said he expected to see power restored to the 49 affected customers later Friday evening.