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One confirmed dead after Wednesday storms
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The rubble of Josephine Pavone's home. - photo by Photo by: Reed Vanderpool
One woman died, at least three homes were completely destroyed, and more than 100 residences suffered damage when a confirmed EF-1 tornado cut through DeKalb County Wednesday.Josephine Phyllis Pavone, 62, was killed when her two-story hillside home on Alpine Drive collapsed, pinning her inside the structure.Pavone’s body was not recovered until Thursday afternoon, after the tireless efforts of rescue workers were hampered by the fact that the remains of the damaged house continued to slide toward the more than 70-foot-deep ravine the structure had been perched above.The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado struck in DeKalb County around 4 p.m.The twister’s path took it across a great portion of the county, apparently beginning on Allen's Ferry Road near the high school.Storm damage initially caused schools to be closed for repairs.The roof at DeKalb Middle School was damaged, and a window frame at the vocational school was bowed inward by the wind, but repairs have been made and school is back in session.The damage continued across the Cookeville Highway to Pine Grove Road, Holiday Haven, Ponder Road, and Puckett's Point, then across the lake to Back Bone Ridge and Falling Water Road in the Johnson's Chapel Community.Damage was extensive in the Johnson’s Chapel community, with several homes damaged by fallen trees.“It was a frightening experience,” one resident of the Falling Water community told the Review, “I really thought it was the end,” she said.DeKalb County Fire Department, rescue squad, constable Johnny King and other emergency services were joined by members of the Putnam County Rescue Squad's Tactical Rope Rescue Team and Collapse Rescue Team, members of the Manchester Fire Department, and Tennessee Task Force 2 out of Nashville who helped in the Pavone rescue effort.The Red Cross has also had volunteers on the ground to assess damage and help victims of the storm.The damage at Pavone’s home was discovered just after the storm abated, and rescue work began immediately.Conditions halted efforts late Wednesday evening, and attempts to extract her body from the rubble resumed Thursday morning.Fire Chief Donny Green said the operation presented some unusual problem for rescue workers.“We had challenges,” said Green after the recovery. “We started work this morning [Wednesday] in the operations phase of the recovery and worked all day trying to gain access to the victim and get the body of the deceased removed and transported to the hospital.“This afternoon [Thursday] we were able to accomplish that through the use of some technical rescue personnel brought in from Task Force 2 (from Nashville), and also from the Putnam County Structural Collapse Team and the Putnam County Rescue Squad. We've had a lot of other agencies that have been here in supporting roles, helping to get the victim's body removed and to accomplish this in a safe manner, because we've had a very unstable situation here throughout the course of this whole operation,” Green reported.Like many local homes in the Center Hill Lake area, the structure was built on a very steep hill, with stilts at the rear of the residence.“The way the house was constructed on the side of a hill, it was difficult to deal with, considering the fact that we had trees that were still hanging over and on the structure endangering our rescuers that were attempting this operation.