published Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Region digging out from storm

  • photo
    Will Stewart, along with brothers Sawyer and Ben, helped dig out his dad's car and a part of the Cleveland street in front of their house Monday in Cleveland. Schools, government offices and many businesses were closed because of the weather.
    Staff photo by Randall Higgins

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Area residents tried to dig out Monday from a winter storm that dumped 10 inches or more of snow in Southeast Tennessee.

But today might not be much better.

While heavy amounts of snow are not predicted, Bradley County Road Superintendent Tom Collins said overnight freezing likely will make roads even more hazardous today.

And even on Monday, progress toward clearing the roads was slow going, he said.

"I don't think I've got a road in the county where you can see asphalt," Collins said Monday afternoon.

His department started salting hills and sharp curves Sunday afternoon and began plowing at 2 a.m. Monday.

With today's conditions, "I guess we will just keep plowing," Collins said. "We've got a lot of hills our equipment can't get up."

Most area government offices, schools and businesses were closed Monday, and many likely will be closed again today.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said he and Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford decided to postpone Monday's council and commission meetings.

The sessions could be postponed again today, depending on road conditions, according to Amy Moore, commission legislative assistant.

Matthew Cason, spokesman for the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency, said it had been "a surprisingly quiet morning" for first responders.

There were widespread reports of snow accumulations of 7 to 10 inches, he said.

"The big concern now is the temperatures," Cason said.

Today will be the best chance for temperatures to break the freezing mark before Friday, he said.

Joe Wilson, director of the Bradley County 911 Communications Center, said some vehicles had gone off the roads and one went off Interstate 75 and struck a tree.

"Everything is slow moving," he said.

Firefighters and the Bradley County Emergency Medical Service as of Monday afternoon were reporting no problems getting to patients, Wilson said.

Cleveland Fire Chief Chuck Atchley said firefighters had no problems answering their calls Monday. No weather-related fires were reported during the storm, he said.

"Typically, for some reason, fires because of the cold start after about three days," Atchley said.

POLK, MARION WOES

In Polk County, authorities reported 10 inches of snow and more on Monday, leaving roads hazardous and mostly deserted.

Officer Gary Verner of the Polk County Sheriff's Office said the roads "are pretty bad around here [Benton] and about five times worse at Ducktown and Turtletown. So far we don't have a lot of traffic except for a few four-wheel-drive trucks."

County Commissioner Randy Collins, of Turtletown, said the town had 12 inches of snow. Collins spent part of his afternoon packing the snow down with his truck so kids could sled on a neighborhood's big hill, he said.

Pharmacist Jerry Lowery said he planned to make a trip to Benton to open The Drug Store for a few hours Monday afternoon. He said a lot of customers picked up their medicines Friday in expectation of rough weather, but he wanted to give folks a chance to get their medicines if they could make it into town.

He said a stuck truck blocked a bridge over the Hiwassee River for quite a while Monday morning.

Commissioner Greg Brooks, of Old Fort, said his area had about 10 inches of snow. He expected things to get ugly by Wednesday morning after the snow had melted and refrozen.

Marion County encountered similar difficulties.

Sheriff's Office dispatcher Jerry Hutchins said all roads were hazardous, including the main ones, and there was little traffic.

Road conditions seemed a little better at the county's highest elevations, at least near Interstate 24.

Jay Patel of Monteagle Shell near the interstate exit said the local roads "are all right. I also see plenty of cars on I-24."

Correspondent Paul Leach contributed to this story.

More weather coverage:

Region pummeled by largest snowfall since '93

'Business as usual' at locals hospitals

There's no day like a snow day

Business: Snow shuts many area operations

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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