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State, local service workers ready for winter weather emergencies

By Teresa Crowder
Freelance Writer

The balmy days of unseasonable weather in our area came to an abrupt halt recently with the charge of fierce cold and white fluffy snow.
The anticipation of snow is not without the possible power outages and dangerous road conditions. These two really pack a punch when snow and ice hit our area, prompting local government agencies, Mountain Electric Coop, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation TDOT, a systematic response to render the area safe and secure in our homes and on the road.
Equipment must continually be serviced, and needed upgrades made or else be at a standstill.
“We have a tremendous working relationship with county, city, and state to help each other out,” said Billy Wilson, Construction Superintendent Mountain Electric Cooperative.
Wilson emphasized that accessibility is key. Anytime there is a power outage, the concern is accessibility to correct it. This is where the city, county, state, and additional service crews are needed.
“The biggest obstacle is that we live in the woods. Electricity and woods don’t mix,” said Wilson.
Accessibility is crucial in any weather emergency. The crews for the city, county, and state are tirelessly on the job as the community emergency vehicles and community at large must be able to travel.
The crews depend on each other as it takes a team effort to get things done.
“This is a brotherhood; we want to help each other,” Wilson said.
“My crew is the best TDOT crew in the state,” said Michael Eller. “I tell my crew we are out there for one reason and one reason only, and that is to ensure the safety of everyone out there moving on the road.”
“I enjoy the work,” said Rick Courtner, a lineman for Mountain Electric Cooperative. “It is demanding, and you can miss family time and holidays. We are on call 24/7 to maintain and provide a reliable system.
Sometimes a 5- or 10-minute storm in the spring and summer are worse than the problems we have in the winter.”
All these crews may be on the job for more than 24 hours at any given time. There is, of course, a plan in place to provide rest, backup help with other agencies, and food provisions when out for extended amounts of time serving the community.
Emergency officials want to urge residents to be prepared in any weather situation, it is good to have alternative sources to heat and cook with, flashlights with fresh batteries to see by, and extra food and water to have on hand.
While traveling, it is a good idea to have a change of clothes, blanket, flashlight, snacks, water, first aid kit, jumper cables, ice scraper/de-icer, and phone charger at the very least.
When traveling, exercise caution, especially when road crews are on the road as
they are paving the way for civil and emergency vehicles needing road accessibly. For more information on winter driving tips, go to
For information on tips on winter home safety,