Out on Signal Mountain; can't see the poles, for the trees - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Out on Signal Mountain; can't see the power poles, for the trees

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By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- As of Wednesday evening, EPB had restored all but 1800 of the 61,000 customers left without power from Monday's two tornadoes and heavy winds, as of Wednesday evening. But crews are having trouble seeing all the downed poles, for the trees.

The 25-feet plus cottonwood tree that an EF-1 tornado plucked and dropped on Warren Miller's home, and Honda, is more like a spear!

He lives on 'Arrow' Drive on Signal Mountain.

"Came down right in front of me, I was pretty freaked out about it," Miller says. "Another 20 seconds, it'd have been in the garage, and probably would have killed me."

"They're trying, but I don't think anybody can grasp the magnitude of this," says Miller's neighbor, Rosie Shearin.

EPB's Vice President for Operations will give it a try.

"Worst than the gustnado (of 2003),  comparable to the Blizzard of '93,"  says David Wade.

By mid-morning Wednesday, EPB's strike force has grown to more than 477 people, tracked and dispatched through a 'War Room activated before the winds hit Monday.

But technology can reveal only where the power has failed, not why. Crews have to head to the affected areas to see for themselves. And getting there, particularly on Signal Mountain, has been more than half the battle.

Arrow Drive was the tornado's bulls eye.

"Most areas that have tornados, or storms like this there aren't as many trees," Shearin says.

EPB has lost 13 power poles on this stretch of Signal Mountain alone.

Replacing one, can take 8-12 hours.

"Realistically, it'll be Thursday before every customer has service," Wade says.

That assumes the skies stay sunny, or at least clear, and that the number of poles lost doesn't rise much higher than the 102 EPB totaled as of Wednesday morning.

After two and a half days of no lights?

I'm sure I don't smell too good," Shearin says. "But we're just dealing--we're camping out."

Shearin was raised on this mountain, as was her 16-year-old Pomeranian, 'Shamu.'

"Never been scared before, but I was this time," she says.

 But not enough for her, nor for Warren Miller, to leave.

"How often does a tornado come by," Miller asks. "Not often--on a mountain."

 

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