Editorial: Icebreakers

Local officials performed admirably during last week’s serious storm
Jan. 29, 2013 @ 12:09 AM

It was a storm that had the makings of a real mess, a storm that threatened to shut down traffic and create all sorts of issues with electrical power and transportation. Weather forecasting is an inexact science, but when the prediction is an ice storm, you better take notice.

Sevier County officials did, and the 80,000 local residents plus a number of visitors owe them a great deal of thanks and gratitude. The impact of last week’s ice storm was minimal, thanks to a lot of planning and some preparation work that made the main thoroughfares in this community much less affected.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation did its job by treating the main state roads with salt ahead of the storm. City and county officials did the same thing for primary local roads. Some neighborhoods got road treatment, even if the residents were not aware of it.

The Sevier County Electric System was ready for anything. Ice storms tend to create problems for power lines, as trees weighed down by ice break and slam into the lines. There isn’t much you can do to prepare for that, except be on stand-by and move to where power is affected. Actually, there were few if any power outages, and the ones that happened were relatively short.

John Matthews and his emergency services operation did duty as a resource for information and problems. As usual Matthews and his staff performed admirably despite the pressure and uncertainty that existed. Law enforcement officials were out in force to troubleshoot. Ambulance personnel found a way to reach those in need even if the going was challenging and dangerous.

All in all, we escaped without much damage and impact. Yes, the storm proved less than predicted, but some of the ease with which the county got through things was because of the prep work by road crews and the rapid response of other officials to situations that called for help.

Many thanks go to all of our government officials who did their jobs so well during what could have been a difficult period.