The Marshall County Post

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Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 8:00 am


The Weekend Before

Whether you called it Snowmaggedon or not, the first winter storm of 2024 was a doozy.  On Sunday, Jan. 14, a winter weather system began traveling through the state and brought dangerously cold temperatures and snow to Tennessee.

On Jan. 13, Director of Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Patrick C. Sheehan, declared a State of Emergency that temporarily allowed commercial vehicles transporting fuel relief from hours of service. The State Emergency Operations Center in Nashville was activated at a Level 4 – Elevated.  Emergency Service Coordinators from many state agencies began monitoring the situation.

First Flash Report

The first “Flash Report: Extreme Winter Weather” was released by TEMA on Jan 15. The Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) had confirmed one weather-related fatality in Shelby County. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reported that the cold weather had increased the power demand across the state. They advised people to conserve energy wherever possible. There were 1,700 power outages statewide.

School Closures

TEMA’s second announcement came on Jan. 16 with the number of weather-related fatalities climbing to six people. TVA reported 2,100 power outages statewide.

By this time, Lewisburg had around 6-8 inches of snow. The Marshall County Post Facebook page was flooded with snow pictures of families, kids, and even pets for an upcoming issue. Schools were already closed on Monday, Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. The Board of Education (BOE) announced that Marshall County Schools would be closed on a day-to-day basis until they opened back up two hours late on Jan. 24.

Lewisburg Ellington Airport recorded -13 degrees in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 17 – tying 3 nearby areas for the coldest in the state. Another Winter Weather Advisory was issued announcing the second wave of the storm – more wintry precipitation over a large portion of the state, including Marshall County

Marshall County Fatalities

The number of weather-related fatalities was at 19-including two in Marshall County. Terry Wolaver died on Jan. 15 at the scene of an accident on Spring Place Rd. Investigators said that Wolaver was stuck in the snow when his vehicle flipped making it impossible for him to exit the vehicle. James Vincion was found dead on Jan. 17 inside a mobile home on Nashville Hwy. There was ice covering the walls, a window open, and an overturned space heater inside.

Second State of Emergency

On Friday, Jan. 19, just after 9 p.m.., the third Flash Report announced temperatures would remain below freezing through the weekend. A second State of Emergency was issued by Director Sheehan to provide relief from hours of service for commercial vehicles that were transporting livestock, poultry, and feed. It ran concurrently with the declaration for commercial vehicles that were transporting fuel.

The extreme temperatures had already increased demands on power and water systems; but, TVA reported power systems remained stable. TVA reported the electric grid was stable and that generating facilities were performing well. There were less than 300 power outages statewide.

Due to the blast of even colder air, several water systems started reporting operational issues that would likely result in boil water advisories, loss of water, or loss of water pressure. By 7 p.m., 16 counties’ water utilities had reported operational issues and 19 water systems had issued boil water advisories.

Warmer Weather on the Way

TEMA’s next release came on Sunday, Jan. 21, with some good news – the cold air was coming to an end. The State of Emergency declarations were still in effect until 3:59 p.m. Jan. 27. Across Tennessee, the TDOH had confirmed 27 weather-related fatalities.

Extremely cold temperatures across the area created record demand for electricity but TVA reported facilities remained stable and performed well. The peak power demand was 34,284 megawatts at 8 a.m. on. Jan. 21 – the highest weekend peak and the second highest all-time peak in TVA history. There were 2,750 power outages statewide.

The cold continued to cause damage to drinking water infrastructures. TEMA and Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) reported that they expected to see even more problems and damages once temperatures started to rise. By then, 17 counties had reported water utilities with operational issues and 28 water systems had issued boil water advisories.

34 Deaths Statewide      

The seventh report was issued on Jan. 22. According to the TDOH, there were 34 confirmed weather-related fatalities: 11 in Shelby County, 7 in Knox County, and 2 in Marshall County.

Final Report 36 Fatalities

The last of the announcements was released on Jan. 23 and there were 36 weather-related fatalities according to the TDOH. The effects of the storm were still causing damage to drinking water infrastructures. At the time, 20 counties reported operational issues by water utilities and 30 water systems had reported issues boil water advisories.

Marshall County Specifics

Waste Management did not run residential routes in Chapel Hill, Cornersville, and Lewisburg during the week of the Jan. 15 – 19. The United States Post Office was unable to deliver mail to several areas as well. Customers reported online that they had not received their mail for several days.

On Jan. 18, Cornersville Liquor announced, “If you don’t have water at home, you can come to Cornersville Liquor and fill up a water bucket. Please bring something to hold water in it. No cost (free) at all, so if you need some water, please come by. Stay safe.”

According to Chad Dennis, Superintendent at Marshall County Board of Public Utilities, there was one water main break on Friday, Jan. 19 at the corner of Ostella Rd. and Yell Rd., but it was repaired quickly. “Marshall County fared pretty well. We didn’t have many customers actually lose water. They just lost pressure, nothing major. They might’ve had to temporarily turn off 11 or 12 customers but it was just for a very short period of time to put a repair clamp on a line.” When asked what he could attribute faring so well to, he said it was sheer luck. “You can’t predict what the weather’s going to do, how the ground shifts, and what’s going to happen. Luckily we did ok so we can be there to assist and help other systems that didn’t fare so well,” Dennis said.

On Jan. 25, the Marshall County Office of Emergency Management advised residents to use caution if traveling on Highway 31-A between Lewisburg and Cornersville. There were some large, deep potholes following the deep freeze. Several tire blowouts were reported.

On Jan. 26, the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities made the following announcement: Public Service Announcement: MCBPU currently is in the process of diverting and providing approx. 150,000 gallons of water per day in order to assist Chapel Hill during their water shortage. To prevent over taxing MCBPU’s system, we are asking our customers to assist in our efforts. On a voluntary basis please conserve as much water as possible over the weekend, starting now and ending Monday the 29th. Your effort along with Lewisburg Water Dept. assistance will enable us to help our local utility in its time of need.

The Town of Chapel Hill released an emergency voluntary water restriction announcement on Friday, Jan. 26 for water customers. It read, “As you are aware, we are experiencing water supply issues in the area around us.  The extreme demand for water is stressing our system and we are unable to keep our tanks filled. We will need to reduce water consumption by 15%-20% over the weekend.  Your cooperation is vital in order to avoid a risk of having to issue a boil order.  This will be in effect until 8 am Monday, January 29th. Some methods to conserve water include delay doing laundry, avoid washing cars, less frequent bathing/showering, using the dishwasher, and being conscious of your water use. We do apologize for the inconvenience this causes. It is temporary.  Please rest assure we are doing everything we can to provide a safe and reliable source of water to our town.  Thank you for your cooperation.”