Smokies officials, visitors prepare for winter weather

Smokies officials, visitors prepare for winter weather

Posted:
Park crews are preparing for a significant snow event and are on standby waiting for the rain to freeze. Park crews are preparing for a significant snow event and are on standby waiting for the rain to freeze.
"The river is rising pretty fast. They told us if it comes up one more foot, we will have to evacuate," said Irma Lepine. "The river is rising pretty fast. They told us if it comes up one more foot, we will have to evacuate," said Irma Lepine.
"We are watching the rising river levels to make sure we are keeping campers in those areas safe," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn. "We are watching the rising river levels to make sure we are keeping campers in those areas safe," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - Surprisingly, the chance of snow and ice didn't keep people from visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Tuesday. Around 20 campers were ready to brave the cold at Elkmont Campground.

"We've been in snow so much, I've drove through it. We have a four-wheel drive jeep, so not that concerned," said camber Al Lepine.

The Lepine family from Iowa already has a week supply of food in their RV and say their diesel generator can go for days. Their only big concern now is the river.

"The river is rising pretty fast. They told us if it comes up one more foot, we will have to evacuate," said Irma Lepine.

Park officials say keeping those in the park safe is their main objective as the weather rolls through.

"We are watching the rising river levels to make sure we are keeping campers in those areas safe," said park spokesperson Dana Soehn.

Park crews are preparing for a significant snow event and are on standby waiting for the rain to freeze.

Campers say they are excited about the snow.

"We are prepared enough. We came for the snow," said Irma Lepine.

Meanwhile, a new batch of visitors were now at the cabins off King Branch Road in Pigeon Forge Tuesday. Hundreds of visitors got snowed into their cabins during a snowstorm in 2010. Some were stuck for three or four days until they were rescued.

Once again, many visitors were ill prepared Tuesday for a winter storm.

"We didn't come prepared this time. Hopefully we'll get out before it comes," said Cierra Harmon.

The Harmon family from Kentucky only bought a few groceries. They were planning to leave Tuesday night to avoid the storm.

"We'll be stuck right in the middle of it," said Harmon.

The Sappington family from Mississippi were also packing their bags.

"We are leaving a day early to get home, so we can get out before it gets bad," said Casey Sappington.

Both families said they couldn't have survived on the food they had for very long if they had gotten snowed in.

These families were not aware of the visitors trapped here in 2010, but were both glad they made the decision to leave.

"We are actually trying to find the best route home not to get in the middle of it," said Sappington.

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