PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Utility crews spent the past few days fighting mother nature to restore power to thousands of people in Middle Tennessee.
According to The Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, the Putnam County area was hit hardest with outages for their members when winter storms rolled through this week. They started the week with about a third of their members without power and that’s fallen to 10 percent of outages as of Thursday night.
“I’m so impressed with how our team comes together to tackle this kind of issue,” said UCEMC CEO Jennifer Brogdon. “This is an epic winter storm with ice and snow on top of ice. It really couldn’t be much worse.”
She said sometimes crews would leave a completed repair and have to come back to it because ice caused the tree limbs to come down on power lines a second time.
“When we think about how we dispatch those crews, we really start with the three-phase lines, which are like the interstate for us, so we’re worried about our power-delivery points, our substations, and our three-phase lines,” Brogdon said. “As soon as we get those up we start working on the other lines that feed the neighborhoods and the individual homes.”
Brogdon also said this week’s storms have meant bringing in 25 additional crews from other Tennessee co-ops and even one from Georgia.
“It’s really the worst case because it’s so cold for our crews and wet as well,” Brogdon said. “What really makes it the worst case for the system is the fact it’s so widespread. If you think about a tornado that comes through, (we went through that early last year) it’s devastating, but it’s in a more isolated area. In this case, every one of our 5,000 miles has had ice on it, and lots of downed trees have weighted down on those lines as well.”
She said crews work late into the night while trying to restore power and were grateful for the community’s support.
“The community has shown up in large support for many of our crews with surprise food and that’s been really appreciated,” Brogdon explained. “I’ve heard them chuckling that even though they’re working really hard they’re probably gaining weight because of all the appreciation from the community.”
UCEMC outages as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday:
- Livingston – 1,500 Outages.
- Cookville – 3,000 Outages.
- Gainesboro – 957 Outages.
- Carthage – 29 Outages.
According to Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter, Cookeville Electric reported being down to about 75 customers without power and they continued to work those outages which were mostly in the northern part of the city.