A family contacted RPD Chief Doug Nelson at about 7 p.m. Monday concerning their 99-year-old grandmother, who lives alone across town.
“She isn’t able to cook, and they were supposed to go fix her supper, but they couldn’t get to her and she couldn’t get to them,” Nelson told the Times-News on Tuesday. “She’s on oxygen and uses a walker, and they were just worried about her, especially if the power went off.”
Nelson sent RPD Officer Chris Funk to get the elderly woman and take her to her family.
By then the snow was so deep he had to carry her to and from his patrol car. He also delivered her oxygen machine to the grandchildren.
Nelson said the family members were very happy with Funk’s delivery of their grandmother, and one of the great-grandchildren snapped a photo as Funk carried her into the house.
“They were ecstatic," Nelson said. “They sent that picture to me and I sent it to Funk because he didn’t know they took the picture. Funk said that’s what we’re here for — to help people.”
Considering the severity of Monday’s winter storm, emergency personnel contacted by the Times-News on Tuesday said Hawkins County got off fairly easy.
Having said that, however, every emergency responder in the county will immediately knock on wood in light of forecasts for the rest of the week.
Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency director Gary Murrell said that aside from a few vehicles stuck on the side of the road, and a few scattered power outages, Hawkins County got off pretty easy Monday and Tuesday.
“Everything was closed this morning, so we didn’t have a lot of traffic on the roads,” Murrell said. “We’ve had very few wrecks since this thing started. They had several small power outages throughout the Holston Electric (Cooperative) area, but nothing major, and they had them back on very quick.”
Murrell added, “I guess you could say we got by really lucky compared to what it could have been.”
What has Murrell concerned now is the big freeze predicted for Thursday, when the lows are expected to dip into the minus-12 range, and the highs will barely hit double digits.
Every heater and heat pump in the county will be working full force during that big freeze, and that’s when power outages are most likely to occur.
Murrell said he is in contact with the Red Cross to ensure emergency shelters can be established if an incident occurs.
“We make sure we’ve got plans ready to go if the Red Cross needs to open up a shelter, or if we need to open one before the Red Cross gets here,” he added. “The location depends on where the outages and incidents are happening. We have access to all the schools in the event of an emergency, as well as fire stations and churches we can use. We hope we don’t have to have it, but we’re ready if we do.”
Police chiefs from Mount Carmel, Church Hill, Rogersville and Surgoinsville had almost identical assessments from Monday’s storm.
There were a few cars on the side of the road, but fortunately no power outages. Most people stayed home, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
“This was the first year we put the liquid salt down before it snowed, and it did real good,” said MCPD Chief Jeff Jackson Tuesday. “We had a few cars stuck on the side of the road, but nothing like we’ve had in past years during similar storms. Considering the severity of the storm, we got off pretty easy in Mount Carmel.”
The storm was bad timing for Rogersville Water Department workers who had to fix a water main break on Main Street early Tuesday, dealing with running water in the snow and the slush.
The announcement was made Tuesday morning that Hawkins County Schools would be closed again today.
Director of Schools Steve Starnes said that given the predicted low temperatures, and the probability that ice and snow on rural, mountainous streets won’t thaw, it's very likely that school will be out for the rest of the week.
As of today, Hawkins County Schools will have used five of its banked snow days.
That leaves five more snow days, plus a possible sixth day on March 3, which was a teacher in-service day that the Board of Education said can be used as a regular school day if needed.