While Friday’s snow caught many people off guard, county service workers were prepared.
“We saw the snow coming we just didn’t know how much we would get,” said Dennis Potter, county road superintendent. When the snow began accumulating, Potter said crews hit the roads and started clearing them. “It was a good snow to push,” he said of the method used to clear the county’s 700 miles of road. With the use of snowplows and graders, most of Campbell County’s roads remained passable.
Salt was not used to melt the ice while just a slight amount of gravel was laid to provide drivers with traction. Potter said the roads proved to be little of a challenge over the weekend. Instead, it was trees that kept county road crews busy and proved to be the unknown variable.
“We had a tremendous amount of trees down,” he said adding that was the only surprise with snow. “Stinking Creek was a disaster.”
By the end of the weekend nearly 500 trees had either been cut, moved or trimmed, Potter said.
Trees covered with a heavy wet snow also caused power problems.
Less than an hour after the snow started to stick, the LaFollette Utilities Board received its first call that customers were without electricity, said LUB Manager Kenny Baird. “That was when we realized we had a situation,” he said.
He estimated that at one point during the snowfall half of LUB’s 22,000 customers were in the dark because trees had hit the power lines. Once the heavy, wet snow started to accumulate on Evergreen trees, the weight became too much pushing the trees into the lines, according to Baird. “It just sticks to those Evergreens,” he said.
He agreed with Potter that the county’s most northern area was the hardest hit. “That is a real mountainous region,” Baird said of the problems posed in restoring power to the vicinity.
LUB and county road crews worked throughout the weekend with most employees working 24 to 36 hours straight, Baird and Potter said of their departments. One LUB crew chose to camp out in Morley in order to pick up where its repairs had been left off the night before, Baird said. “When the sun goes down, production goes with it,” he said.
Twenty-five road employees and the eight LUB crews also received some help from the rescue squad and “concerned citizens” the men said. They also worked together with a road crew traveling into the mountains with LUB employees, according to Potter.
Despite the suddenness of the snow’s onset, Baird and Potter agreed their respective departments were prepared. “Everybody worked real safe and real hard,” Baird said.
“If it was colder it would have been a lot worse,” Potter said.