It’s not every day that Lincoln Memorial University is featured in the national media, but that is exactly what happened today thanks to Smithsonian Magazine. In a regular feature entitled Photo of the Day, a dynamic shot of the LMU campus during a lightning storm is displayed. The shot was captured by Matthew Hunt shows lightning striking the campus near the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM). Matthew is a photographer and physician assistant student at LMU-DCOM. He is a member of the Class of 2015.
At roughly 4:30 p.m. yesterday, as LMU staff were hitting the door and heading home for the evening, the air was remarkably calm, almost still, even. It truly was the calm before the storm. People who remained on campus at 5 p.m. witnessed the wind cutting through campus downing trees, uprooting landscaping and damaging buildings. The wind was accompanied by some rain, thunder and plenty of lightning.
The severe thunderstorms swept out of the area almost as quickly as they came in, leaving as of yet untold damage. Reports last night included a house that was possibly blown off its foundation in Harrogate. In Knoxville, tens of thousands were left in the dark with widespread power outages. The worst reports trickled in from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where two people lost their lives.
Early this morning, LMU Maintenance and Grounds crews were working diligently to clear the fallen trees and varied debris around campus. They were inspecting buildings and surveying damage. The line of thunder storms caused damage to several University buildings including the Schenck Center, Farr-Chinnock, Grant-Lee and Avery. A window was blown out in Schenck. Farr-Chinnock sustained the greatest damage as pieces of its roof were torn apart from the building. The outdoor batting cages near the Lamar Hennon Baseball Field were also mangled in the storm.
Remarkably, the University technology infrastructure remained intact throughout the event with only brief outages of power or internet services. “We were fortunate that the most extensive damage was sustained to our landscaping,” LMU President Dr. Dawson told me. “And certainly, the best news is that there were no injuries.”
LMU Dean of Administration Lisa Blair Cox along with Director of Campus Safety and Facilities Richard Owens were working with insurance adjustors to get the University back to business as usual, but with such widespread damage I think we can all expect this to take a little time.
A film crew from Sigmon Communications Center was on the scene when the storm struck and captured this raw footage of the damage.
For more photos, check out the University’s Flickr photo stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lincolnmemorialuniversity/sets/72157630449915448/
LMU Tri-State News filed this report on the storm: