Blount County residents concerned about emergency services

Blount County residents concerned Smokies shutdown will hurt access to emergency services

Posted:
The Foothills Parkway serves the Top of the World Community. The Foothills Parkway serves the Top of the World Community.
With the Foothills Parkway closed due to the government shutdown, some residents are concerned about emergency services. With the Foothills Parkway closed due to the government shutdown, some residents are concerned about emergency services.
"My father had three strokes and a heart attack before the age of 56, so if he had another episode where he needed medical care quickly, I question the ability to get that here," said Melissa Hendricks. "My father had three strokes and a heart attack before the age of 56, so if he had another episode where he needed medical care quickly, I question the ability to get that here," said Melissa Hendricks.
"We're not concerned with the road being shut down. We have access," said Blount County Fire Capt. Tim Ogle. "We're not concerned with the road being shut down. We have access," said Blount County Fire Capt. Tim Ogle.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

TOWNSEND (WATE) - There are still no signs of a deal to end the federal government shutdown while more and more East Tennesseeans are worried they could be affected.

The government shutdown led to the closure of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and with that comes the closure of Foothills Parkway which runs along the park's northwestern boundary.

The parkway also serves the Top of the World community. With it closed, school buses can't run because they can't navigate the back roads.

That prompted concerns from residents about other services.

A 6 News viewer who lives in that community emailed the newsroom concerned about how crews would reach the community in case of an emergency.

When the Foothills Parkway is open, the nearest fully staffed fire station is 10 to 15 minutes away. If crews couldn't use the parkway, it could take 20 or 30 min.

The extra 10 to 15 minutes could mean the difference between saving a home and completely losing it in a house fire.

Melissa Hendricks recently moved to the Top of the World with her parents, who both have health problems.

"My father had three strokes and a heart attack before the age of 56, so if he had another episode where he needed medical care quickly, I question the ability to get that here," said Hendricks.

6 News took her concerns about the closure of the Foothills Parkway to Capt. Tim Ogle with the Blount County Fire Protection District.

"We're not concerned with the road being shut down. We have access," said Ogle.

The fire department along with the ambulance service and sheriff's office have keys to the gates blocking the parkway.

"We talked to the park service. When the weather is bad they have to shut the road down. We still needed access and they provided us with access," said Capt. Ogle.

Hendricks was relieved to hear the news, though she is still ready for the government shutdown end and for Foothills Parkway to reopen.

"It's still obviously an inconvenience, but that does alleviate a lot of fears," said Hendricks.

The mayor of Blount County sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior asking to allow the county to control and maintain roads in the Smokies, but that request was denied.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.