A week of winter weather shut down much of the county for the better part of last week. Winter storms moved into the area with some icy conditions Sunday, Feb. 14 in the Beech Grove area.
Temperatures held in below freezing for the first of the week before plummeting into the teens Wednesday. Late Wednesday night, snow moved in and quickly dropped about three inches before turning to more freezing rain in the early hours of Thursday.
A large number of homes were without power due to broken limbs knocking out power across the county. Hardest hit was the northern end of the county.
Coffee County Emergency Management Director Allen Lendley said that about ¼ inch of ice had developed causing a lot of tree limbs to fall.
“The highest I saw, we had about 4,000 people without power in the county,” he said. “We could have gotten hit a lot worse. We happened to be right on the edge of the freeze line. We got ice in other places but nowhere near the buildup we got in the northern part of the county.”
Lendley said that EMA worked with the highway department, TDOT, the sheriff’s department and volunteer fire and rescue departments to help keep the roads open and accessible to emergency responders.
“Lakewood Park was pretty hard hit as far as trees down. New Union Fire Department worked that first night clearing roads,” Lendley said.
To help people without power, EMA and the American Red Cross partnered to provide shelter location. Lendley said early in the week people were housed in local hotels, but then as the more space was needed, a shelter was opened at the Ada Wright Center.
“It got to the point on Wednesday, we determined there was enough people needing shelter that we had to do something different, so we opened the shelter,” he said.
The shelter stayed open through Friday.
“Duck River and TUA did an awesome job of getting people’s power back up,” He said. “It was a long week last week.”
Freezing rain, snow and low temperatures
Local National Weather Service local spotter Mary Lee Barton was at ground zero so to speak, at her Barton Springs home during the ice storm.
“We had freezing mist and fog through the weekend before,” she said. “That didn’t cause much of travel problems, but in the higher elevations and the hills, you could definitely see the difference.”
Monday, Barton observed freezing rain building until about 3:30 p.m., she lost power.
“It was a ¼ inch of ice, she recalled measuring. “It was a long icing event.”
“It got very cold. That’s part of the problem when you have an event like this, when you lose power, you lose you heat source, you worry about people who don’t have a secondary heat source.”
She noted temperatures of 17-18 degrees. Then on Wednesday night’s snowstorm dropped 3 inches of wet snow within a few hours.
“Right about 11 p.m., the snow tapered off and turned back into freezing rain. That’s not something we wanted to see.”
“Kudos to the highway department. They got the roads to where they were drivable,” Barton said. “The snow and the ice definitely left some tricky situations.”
Saturday’s bright sun was welcomed conclusion wind down the week.
“Sunrise made all the trees sparkle like you were in Narnia. By about lunch, the sun had helped melt the ice tremendously,” Barton noted.
“I’m so thankful for all the crews that came out to help. Everyone in my area and in a lot of areas are just so appreciative of what they’ve done. Our power was on after 48 hours,” Barton said.