PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Thousands of Sevier County residents could be without power for the next couple of days after a snowstorm blew through the area early Monday morning.
As of 8 p.m., a little more than 20,000 Sevier County Electric System customers were without power. Allen Robbins, General Manager of SCES, said people without power should prepare for some cold nights ahead.
“I would seek alternative shelter or some other place to go because the temperatures are going to start dropping tonight. We’re going to get a little bit of a warm up today as we’ve watched the weather, but it’s going to get into the teens tonight which will slow the travel, which will slow the progress of getting people back on,” Robbins said.
Robbins said more crews outside of SCES came to help Monday and more were on their way Tuesday morning. He explained one issue was getting to the heart of the problem so they can figure out how many people were actually without power.
“So, it’s hard for us to really have a full assessment because so many circuits are out of the substations. Once we get those addressed, then we’ll be able to assess the total damage that is out in the rural areas as well,” Robbins said.
Robbins said the biggest cause of the power outages was downed trees. Because of those downed trees, some lines were down close to the substations, which meant power couldn’t travel past the substations. Once the lines near the substations were fixed, they could get a better picture.
Shirley Ogle was one of those residents without power. She lives in the Little Cove area.
“I would love to have power,” Ogle said.
She had been without power since around 4 a.m. Ogle said she was prepared, to an extent. “We knew it was coming. We gathered up water. Put our bathtub full of jugs of water, and candles.”
She said she stocked up on candles, and although her stove wouldn’t work without the electricity, they could make sandwiches.
Ogle said the snowstorm was almost as much snow as she had seen in the Blizzard of ’93. She was without power for seven days then. Robbins said the snow Monday morning was pretty similar.
“The only difference is the blizzard was much more moisture and it set in on us longer. But, both of these systems, last year and this one are exactly the same,” Robbins said.
Robbins said it’s almost impossible to prevent power outages in a snowstorm in mountainous terrain. They can only trim so many trees.
“Once you enter the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg Just that little bit of change in elevation is the biggest thing that brings these type of storms to us,” Robbins said.
So, as crews continue to come in and get the electricity back online, Robbins said customers should plan for the cold nights ahead.
Ogle was doing just that and had a back up plan in case she couldn’t watch TV. “If I have to, I’ll go get me a motel room,” Ogle said.