Local utilities sending help for Sandy victims
From Staff Reports
Local utilities are responding to requests for help from linemen and tree trimmers in the path of Hurricane Sandy.
Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative sent employees and released contract crews, according to General Manager Jarrod Brackett.
The cooperative sent three service crews consisting of six men to the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, whose general office is in Fredericksburg, Va., near Washington, D.C.
They also released two full utility line crews consisting of 10 men from Services Electric Co. of Chattanooga. The crews left Saturday.
Alcoa Electric Department and Sevier County Electric System released contract crews to provide help and those crews left Saturday for the Northeast. They are reportedly working where needed, moving around areas including Virginia and Vermont.
Alcoa released four crews with Wolfe Tree Inc. of Knoxville and ABC Tree Co. of Houston, Texas, from contracts, said Alcoa Electric Director Eddie Trammel.
Each crew consists of three men, which means 12 men are now helping remove downed trees.
Sevier County Electric Service, which serves a portion of Townsend, released a full electric line crew with Service Electric Co. and two tree trimming crews with Wolf and ABC.
A full line crew consists of a foreman with a pickup, two bucket trucks, line truck and six or eight men.
The affected utilities pay the cost of the contract services. Cooperatives share costs and will not bill another cooperative for the entire cost, Brackett said.
“We respond when we can,” Trammel said. “You never know when you will need help (such as in the blizzard of 1993). If you helped people in the past, they would be more likely to respond if you need help.”
Alcoa has not received any requests with help from electric-line crews.
Requests come to the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, which sends out the word to distributors; TVA; to the states or to the contractors, he said.
Maryville Utilities Department does not have a lot of vehicles and does not provide aid out of state, said Maryville public information officer Pam Arnett. If Maryville crews were hundreds of miles away and were then needed back here, it would pose a problem.
“We are just short of resources,” Arnett said.
Airline problemsLocally, travelers hoping to fly to the Northeast may be out of luck in the aftermath of the superstorm.McGhee Tyson Airport has been seeing cancellations of flights to the areas most affected by the storm, said Becky Huckaby, director of public relations for the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, on Tuesday.“We are seeing cancellations to the Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York markets,” she said. “As the storm continues to move through with either rain or snow, we’re also seeing delays in other cities as people are trying to connect to places like Chicago, Cleveland and Baltimore. If passengers are flying to the Northeast or have plans to do so for the next couple days, we are suggesting they contact the airline they are using.”
The situation will sort itself out, but it will take a few days, Huckaby said. “We anticipate this will take a while for this system to reset itself and get back to operations as normal because of the impact of Hurricane Sandy.”As of Tuesday morning, about 17 inches of snow have fallen in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with more expected. The snow was falling in the higher elevations of the Smokies. Newfound Gap is around 5,000 feet in elevation. Mount LeConte is 6,500 feet, Hotz said.
The following GSMNP roads were closed Tuesday:
• Newfound Gap Road (US-441) is closed due to snow and ice;
• Clingmans Dome Road is closed due to snow and ice;
• Cataloochee Entrance Road is closed due to snow and ice;
• Old NC-284 between Big Creek and Cataloochee is closed.