Gawkers of deadly tornado damage complicate recovery - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Gawkers of deadly tornado damage complicate recovery

LAFAYETTE, Tenn. (AP) - The awesome power of a deadly tornado is drawing gawkers - complicating the recovery and salvaging efforts of residents and officials in rural Macon County.

People were taking advantage of a clear, crisp Saturday morning to drive through the affected areas.

"There's an awful lot of spectators, that's for sure," said Joe Jones, a contractor from nearby Franklin, Ky., who was waiting to fix the blown out windows of a Lafayette home. "People are running 10 to 15 mph around town, and they've got plates from all over."

Clint Carter, who was clearing his yard of downed limbs and metal, said the onlookers stress the recovery effort.

"Our road system can't handle all this additional traffic," said Carter, 32, who works in the information technology field.

On Thursday, a local minister and his family was killed on Highway 52 when their van was rear-ended by a truck and pushed into stopped traffic.

"People who want to help, that's good. But people who just want to look, we don't need that," Carter said. "Thoughts and prayers are what we ask for more than anything else."

Carter's two daughters, Morgan and Cadence, ages 6 and 3, seemed to enjoy the cleanup efforts. But they have a more difficult time when it gets dark and conditions more closely resemble the storm that was so destructive to their neighborhood, Carter said.

The brand new 5,000-square-foot brick home next door was laid to waste by the storm. Bob Gocha, 70, was overseeing cleanup efforts at the site of the home owned by his son, who was not in the home when it was leveled.

Gocha, a retired farmer, praised the work of volunteers - many of them strangers - who helped move wood salvaged from the wreckage into a cattle trailer.

"That's what happens when you live in the country," he said. "You get help from good people who have been through tough times before."

Police and state authorities have also kept checkpoints at the worst hit neighborhoods, like the Akersville Road area, to keep out onlookers.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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