The Southeast was hit by a winter storm Wednesday and through the night, dropping from 5 to 10 inches of snow in the Tri-Cities region by morning. Kingsport’s Streets and Sanitation Department began working on the main access roads Wednesday afternoon and continued overnight.
To allow additional manpower for snow removal, city garbage, trash and recycling collection schedules were changed for the remainder of the week.
City officials said that collections normally scheduled for Thursday will be picked up today, and regular Friday collections will now be picked up on Saturday.
By midmorning, the main roads were in pretty good shape and crews shifted to clearing the neighborhood streets, said Ronnie Hammonds, streets and sanitation manager for the city.
“Crews concentrated on the main roads all night because of the heavy intensity of the snowfall, but now we’re getting into the subdivisions,” Hammonds said. “We’re going to continue working 12-hour shifts around the clock today and tonight and try to mop up.”
The department is receiving reports of people pushing snow from parking lots into the roadway.
Hammonds advises people not to do this; if you do clear snow from a parking lot, make sure you keep the snow out of the road.
“It’s a dangerous situation and they could be liable for an accident,” he said.
Prior to Wednesday’s storm, Kingsport had approximately 2,300 tons of road salt on hand with orders coming in about every day for the past week or so.
Hammonds said by lunchtime, the city had used about 750 tons of road salt over the past 24 hours.
“We’ve got another 1,400 tons on order and we got a couple of hundred delivered yesterday,” he said.
Kingsport has 28 pieces of equipment designated for snow removal, including four-wheel-drive pickup trucks, dump trucks, a backhoe and road grader. Hammonds said one transmission went down last night as did the motor in one of the salt spreader trucks.
“It’s going as well as expected. Any time you’ll usually have about 30 percent of your equipment down, from minor to major things,” Hammonds said.
Normally, it takes 36 hours to scrape all of the roads of the city, a challenge for the ones who have to operate the plows during the middle of the night.
Hammonds said the overnight work is both boring and stressful at the same time.
“You’re out there on a heavy piece of equipment with limited visibility and having to be on guard for other people around you,” Hammonds said. “You don’t know what’s around the next curve.”