Crews work to restore power in Rhea County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: More than 900 without power in Rhea County

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RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: Early Wednesday afternoon, as many as 930 people are without power in Rhea County as crews start they day, cranking up the trucks after a night of rest.

Volunteer Energy Cooperative's tells Channel 3 that current outage numbers for Rhea, McMinn, and Meigs counties are:
  • Rhea -776
  • McMinn - 839
  • Meigs - 155
But as crews work to restore power, kerosene heaters are in high demand at the Spring City Ace Hardware where supplies of anything heat-related is low.

"You can't anticipate a disaster," said Ace Hardware Owner Jim Galloway. "You can't stock for that."

Galloway said customers are picking up any heat or light sources they can operate without power.

The power company said its "cautiously optimistic" that all power will be restored to all Rhea County customers by Wednesday night.

Tuesday temperature barely got above freezing, complicating their efforts.

Downed power lines continue to be a problem in Rhea County. Officials say the number of residents without power has actually increased throughout the day, due to melting ice and broken tree limbs. Crews have been spread out around the county working to restore power. 

Much of northern Rhea County was blanketed Tuesday with not only ice, but also linemen working hard to restore power.

"We've been up all night. We started yesterday afternoon and then working through the night," says Matt Hester with Service Electric Company.

He says the cold conditions are not making things easy.

"All through the night, everything's been breaking. Tree limbs falling down, taking out trucks, power lines, everything like that," says Hester.

Downed trees covered several roads. County Executive George Thacker says it is all hands on deck.

"Last night, you know, the county pulled together and helping each other. It was a pretty good spirit watching people help each other," says Thacker.

He and others worked into the wee hours of the morning making sure roads were clear.

"We had volunteer firemen with me and rescue. It was really amazing. And you know, the best part of it, someone out of the blue and grab the chainsaw out of the truck and help us," says Thacker.

In the meantime, some folks say they have enjoyed looking at the 'winter wonderland.'

"It's been beautiful," says Ginny Murrell.

Ginny Murrell in Spring City says she has enjoyed the quietness of having no power, staying warm by the fire.

"The game plan's to continue to catch up with this. I've been doing a new Bible study trying to get through the word, complete from front to back without pause."

Moments after our interview, the lights flickered back on.

"Thank you for bringing our power back!"     

She says she will keep reading and thanking those who are working to turn the lights back on.

"Just trying to get the power back on and keep everybody happy," says Hester.

Crews plan to be out throughout the evening to make sure power is restored.  
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