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Winter weather wrath reigns in Franklin County

It has been more than a week since ice and snow began to descend on Franklin County, but several areas are still feeling the wrath of the winter weather with fallen trees and icy roads.

County engineer David Palmer said in several areas, trees are still leaning and will likely fall because of the storm, if not taken care of.

“This storm is something we will be dealing with for several more weeks,” Palmer said.

County EMA Director Mary Hallman Glass said several county roads are still considered impassable because of fallen trees or ice that has not had the chance to melt yet.

“It has been an exhausting past week,” Hallman Glass said. “Everyone has worked hard, and we are still working hard.”

The storm began Feb. 15 with sleet and icy weather rolling in late. Schools and county businesses shut down Tuesday to prepare for the 3-4 inches of ice that accumulated on the roads.

“When it does that, it’s really tough because you can’t blade off ice,” Palmer said. “We just don’t have the equipment or the chemicals to deal with that. We were able to blade off the snow, which helped, but we couldn’t do anything about the ice.”

Wednesday morning sun allowed the ice to begin to melt, but snow that night brought in additional trouble. By the time morning came, roads were covered with an additional 5 to 6 inches of snow on top of the ice.

Russellville City Schools were closed Feb. 15-19 but resumed Monday. Franklin County Schools reopened Tuesday.

The Franklin County Courthouse and the Franklin County Health Department were also closed through Friday because of the weather.

Franklin Electric said there around 1,500 customers lost power throughout the week, with some areas losing power on multiple occasions. The hardest hit area for power loss was east of Highway 43 around Oak Road.

Palmer said the Spruce Pine and East Franklin area also experienced a lot of trees down.

“The good thing about people being out and about now is they can report to us if they come across any fallen trees or any that are leaning so we can go take care of that,” Palmer said. 

Both Hallman Glass and Palmer said they cannot remember a winter storm like this since 1994, but Palmer said even that storm had different conditions.

“I don’t remember any storm where ice and snow has stayed on the ground like this for this long,” Palmer said.

Palmer said he is grateful to all of the EMA workers, fire department, sheriff’s office, police stations, highway department and all of the others who worked tirelessly during the storm.

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped during this,” Palmer said. “We know this has not been an easy time on anyone, but we are thankful to the people in the county for being patient with us and for everyone who helped us through this.”