While a lot of people wanted to bypass road closures to get into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tuesday (Oct. 17), others wanted out.
WBIR TV, Knoxville, Tenn., reported campers who weathered wind gusts of more than 100 mph Monday night decided not to risk another night in the great outdoors, especially after waking up to discover the damage looked as bad as it sounded from inside their tents and RVs overnight.
“It was blowing something terrible, limbs were crashing down on the ground,” Ellen Fox of Alabama explained. “There are huge trees uprooted.”
Park officials said two people camping at Cades Cove Campground were treated and released from an area hospital. One of them was a six-year old boy who was asleep when a tree limb crashed through his folding camping trailer.
Falling trees left holes in several RVs, during a time of year nearly every campsite is booked.
“I was standing inside the motorhome, and I was looking out the window and all of a sudden, pow!” said Knox County resident Ada Farmer, explaining that a tree limb shattered the windshield of her RV.
A number of tent campers headed for hotels when the bad weather hit, leaving their belongings behind.
Park crews had to clear the roads before anyone could get back in or break camp and head home.
Those who survived a few close calls were ready to leave, even before the park service advised them it would be a good idea to spend the night elsewhere.
“We might leave the RV here, it’s got insurance,” camper Steve Graham said.
After a 75-foot tree fell less than a foot from his truck, he said he didn’t want to risk another night.
“My wife and the dog and I are going to a hotel to spend the night,” Graham said. “They say it’s going to be worse tonight and it can’t get much worse than this.”
The park advised campers more severe weather may be on the way, which could make it impossible to reach them during an emergency.
However, officials did not issue a mandatory evacuation.