For The Vista
All you Ganders, Buckeyes, Lonions, Badgers and whoever else might be out there, we get it. Big reason y’all came down here was to duck all that bum winter weather that you’ve put up with most of your life.
Well, you did the right thing. Sure won’t have all that snow down here every winter like you did up there in Yankee land. But … you ain’t totally oughta the woods. Most of y’all have been hearing about how this might be a cold winter. Maybe so, maybe …. just maybe we could have a blizzard that could make all y’all shiver your timbers.
You see, we do get whacked with snow and cold and wind and ice once in awhile even way down here. Take the winter of 1993. Now that may seem like ancient times if you’re teenager but most of us “mature” folks know that 1993 wasn’t that far away.
Back on March 13th, 1993 Cumberland County was relaxed, fat and happy. (OK, relaxed and happy) All of a sudden, without much warning the Plateau got turned into a winter wonderland in just a few hours. Got slammed with a winter blizzard that would measure up to the worst many of y’all have ever seen. How bout wind chill temps of -20F for hours, wind speeds up to 40 MPH, 18 iinches of snow with drifts to 6 feet? Not possible here? Think again, it happened right here in the Glade and Cumberland County.
Many of you Gladers out there may be thinkin, “Hmmm, not so bad, I’ve seen worse.” Maybe, but if you did you were in a place that was ready for weather like that. On the Plateau, we aren’t ready for storms like that. Further it’d be a waste of money to get ready for storms that just don’t happen very often.
So when it comes it comes and on March 13th 1993 it came and it came with long, white teeth. It started early Friday and continued for a solid 37 hours.
By late Friday almost all State, City, and County roads were closed. Residents were warned to stay home. Right, they couldn’t go anywhere anyway. I-40 closed between Buffalo Valley and the Putnman county line to Knoxville stranding hundred of travelers. Many, stranded on I-40 between the Crab Orchard and Westel road exit spent most of the day in their cars until rescue workers could get to them around 8 P.M. Saturday.
So where to put all these stranded folks? Hotels and motels filled up right off. Emergency shelters had to be set up in the National Guard Armory, the Cumberland County Fire Station, Caryonah Hunting Lodge, Westel Fire Station, Haley’s Grove Baptist Church, the Crab Orchard Church of God and many more places we don’t even know about.
All totalled, approximately 438 people, most from I-40 were put up in emergency shelters. Local service people like waitresses, cooks etc. … could not even get home until Monday afternoon and stayed wherever they could find a warm, dry place.
One silver lining (White Lining?) … The storm was a boom time for those businesses and restaurants that could open as they had what you might call a “captive” audience.
The Crossville Fire Department estimated 130 runs were made delivering people to shelters, delivering medicine, kerosene and other needed supplies. It was a constant effort making sure people had what they needed. On Friday night it was one continuous run and impossible to estimate accurately just how many runs had been made by emergency personnel and volunteers.
One amazing thing was the fact that there were very few power outages reported. Could have been a nightmare without power in some of our outlying areas. Not sure we would get off that easy if this were to happen today.
Tuesday morning the county was still digging out from under all that white stuff. As reported, some of it had drifted to 6 feet. It was so cold that much equipment that could have been used siimply would not start.
After the storm finally passed, the work was not done. All that snow had to be removed and it didn’t go quietly.
So Dear Readers, if you think you will never see a blizzard again you may be wrong. Maybe one lurks just around the corner.
A few siimple things can make a big difference. You can find snow shovels pretty cheap if you look. Salt for the driveway is pretty cheap but then where would you go anyway?
A secondary source of heat is always good. How would you and your house make out if temps got to -20F for three days and the power was out? Dang, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little generator to charge up the ol cell phone, keep the fridge cold, listen to news, maybe even get the coffee hot?
It’d be nice to check on the old folks in your neighborhood too. Wait a minute, we’re all old folks here.
For sure, if you live in the Glade with all our nice hills, you would not go anywhere for a few days in the car. Might be a good idee to have enough food and drink on board but it seems like you all know about that part.
The Sage is a Cumberland County residen, freelance writer and leisure professional. He can be reached at: [email protected]