Haslam tours tornado damage in Lincoln County

Gov. Bill Haslam toured the heavily damaged area around South Lincoln Elementary School Wednesday and told those hit hardest that help was on the way, reports The Tennessean.

Across from the street from the school, he teetered in his cowboy boots as he surveyed Kaye Crowley’s home where a tree had crushed her rec room, the wind ripped the ceiling off her bedroom and her pool, where an RV had been tossed.

“We’ll do everything we can to help you guys,” Haslam told her.

She worried about the cost to replace the fence that surrounded 200 acres of her farmland, which wouldn’t be covered by insurance.

“It’s not something that your average family farm is going to be able to absorb,” she said.

Haslam’s on-the-ground visit in Lincoln County followed a helicopter tour of the area, two days after an EF-3 tornado destroyed dozens of homes and killed at least two people.

“It’s incredible, given the strength of the storm, that more people didn’t get hit,” Haslam said after the aerial tour.

Once on the ground, Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder asked Haslam for continued aid from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and from state troopers, who helped keep the hardest-hit areas secure.

Before he left Lincoln County, Haslam spoke to the media in front of South Lincoln Elementary School. He peered into the building through shattered window panes.

“You literally see people whose lives were turned upside down,” he said of his tour of the area. “The main thing I wanted to do today is to make sure that we as a state are doing everything that we can to help.”

Note: This updates, expands and replaces earlier post.