CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Snow started falling in Cumberland County around 10 a.m. Central Time and continued throughout the day. By the time the snow stopped in the early evening, a few inches accumulated on the ground.
Scott Blaylock, Cumberland County Highway superintendent, said his department didn’t have enough resources to pretreat the roads before the winter weather event arrived, but his crews had their trucks ready to go and it was all hands on deck.
“Each one of the operators, they have their zones, and they know where the trouble spots are at,” Blaylock said. “We got to them first and we treat them with salt and sand and half inch chilled mixture for traction. And we do the intersections, the curves and the hills to begin with, and we just ride it out.”
Blaylock said he only had 15 crews in the department, but all of them were out and about working to treat roads. He said because his crews have 1,700 roads to cover, state roads – which have more crews and resources – would be in better condition.
“Vandiver Road will be one of the first ones, Brewer Road, Creston Road, Plateau Road, Mayland Road, Pleasant Hill Road, um, my gosh, there’s any direction you’ll find us,” Blaylock said.
Residents could notice that. Tabitha Rogers said she hopes in the future the county could budget for more drivers, especially if they have a snowy winter season.
“Treacherous,” Rogers said. “I would not recommend. Not recommend at all. Definitely need more salt trucks. No one is prepared for this type of weather right now.”
One couple was driving from Pigeon Forge to West Tennessee right in the middle of the snowfall. John Gabriel said he was staying mainly to the highway.
“The roads have been decently salted and clean,” he said. “It’s slushy. It’s a mess out there. We’ve seen a few cars in the ditch, but so far so good, you know, going. Just need to go real slow and careful.”
Emergency crews were working extra shifts today in preparation for the hazardous conditions ahead.
Carter Julian, an EMT with Cumberland County EMS, said by noon, they had already responded to at least one car sliding off the road in their jurisdiction, and others were facing the same responses.
“People just driving too fast for conditions, so being aware of your surroundings,” Julian said. “A lot of people are stopping, checking the road conditions. Just be aware of your surroundings and be careful of where you’re going.”
Julian said if you see another driver who seems to have slid off the road, such as a back road, stop to check on them if it’s safe.
The road conditions are just as hazardous for first responders, so their response time may be delayed.
“Especially when we go to homes, people who live on backroads. Expect a little bit of a delay, sometimes trying to get the ambulance back there,” Julian said. “We only actually have two-wheel drive in our ambulances, so getting back to you might be a little bit of an issue but we’ll always get there.”
Blaylock said it would be a long two days for his crews as they help first responders and other drivers stay safe.
“Our crews will be out tonight working wrecks, helping EMS if their in binds, and then tomorrow everybody will be back 100% full force going back to their zones and trying to get rid of this stuff,” Blaylock said.
Blaylock said if you don’t have to drive stay home so the Highway Department can get the roads treated. If drivers need to go on the roads, take it slow and give the trucks plenty of room.