Almost 9,000 without power in Chattanooga area

Almost 9,000 without power in Chattanooga area

March 2nd, 2012 by Ellis Smith and Carey O'Neil in Local - Breaking News

Power outage tile

Power outage tile

Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Times Free Press.

Downed power lines are complicating rescue efforts after tornadoes touched down throughout the Chattanooga area today.

EPB reports that nearly 1,400 customers in the Harrison, Highway 58 and Hickory Valley Road area have no electricity, while about 7,500 Volunteer Energy Cooperative customers lost power due to "unconfirmed reports of tornados," spokesman Robert McCarty wrote in an e-mail to reporters.

Some emergency responders are saying on the radio that lines are tangled with downed trees, posing a risk to storm victims and rescuers alike.

McCarty reported that 2,549 customers in Bradley County, 2,412 in McMinn County, and 2,411 in Hamilton County had no power.

"The damage is extensive in McMinn, Bradley and Hamilton counties," he wrote. "All available crews are working to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible but [it] is expected that some customers will remain without power for several hours."

EPB spokesperson Deborah Dwyer said crews were on standby pending further waves of storms that are expected to lash the region after dark this evening.

"Right now we're telling people to call us if they have an outage," Dwyer said. "We're expecting more tonight."