UPDATE: Capsized dock damage blamed on "microburst"
By Callie Starnes
Eyewitness News Reporter/Anchor
RHEA COUNTY (WRCB) – Folks at the Arrowhead Resort in Rhea County are trying to determine exactly what caused substantial damage in their marina over night.
At least a dozen boats have been crushed or capsized when a burst of wind flipped a dock at the marina around 8:30 p.m. Monday.
"It's just like you closed a garage door and had stuff in the way of the garage door," said Mike Spiech, "that's what it looks like."
Mike Spiech's boat was crushed, but he's holding out hope it can be salvaged.
"If they don't goof a whole lot up trying to get that roof off," said Spiech, "it probably will be, but heaven help them trying to get that roof off."
Luckily no one was injured, but the resort estimates the damage to be around $1.5 million.
The twisted metal and sunken boats attracted neighbors who say Monday night's storm must be to blame.
"Three more rows of boat slips turned upside down,the gas pumps on the other end," said John Huston, "it took a lot of force to do that."
Huston was on Watts Bar Lake when the wind picked up and lighting started Monday night. He says the wind only lasted five minutes, but was strong enough to tip the dock.
"It must have come straight down the lake and hit this dock head-on," said Huston.
Neighbors suspect a microburst.
A microburst is a strong downward wind that leaves a small radius of damage.
Signs can be found in the trees nearby that are untouched. Boats just 250 feet from the dock are left unharmed.
One of those boats belong to Denise Gardner. She went to the marina Monday night when she heard about the damage.
"We went to find our boat," said Gardner, "it was dark, but the one that is upside down - we thought it was ours."
A stroke of luck, or divine intervention, Gardner's boat survived the storm that destroyed at least a dozen others.
"The rotten rope we had tied it up with just snapped and the boat just sailed off," said Gardner, "the neighbor back there got it."
Mike Spiech, who was not as fortunate, says he won't let Mother Nature sink his summer plans.
"My summer plans are exactly what they still are," said Spiech, "I just won't go to the lake too much."
Four of the damaged boats belong to the Arrowhead Resort.
The resort's owner says her rental business will be closed until clean-up if finished.
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