|Storms flood area, knock out services
|Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 2:51 pm
|Stormy conditions and blinding rain on Friday left county roads flooded while a lightning strike managed to take out the entire phone circuit in the city of Dresden, Latham and Palmersivlle.
911 calls were re-routed to the Martin Police Department’s dispatch center while the county was on stand-by waiting for restored phone services.
Weakley County Emergency Management Director Jamison Peevyhouse said on Monday that the county was very fortunate to work in tandem with the MPD communications office.
“We are learning a lot right now. We are actually evaluating the situation to determine what we need to do in the future if this happens again. If it had been two weeks later, we would have been o.k.,” Peevyhouse commented.
The EMA director said his department has ordered equipment that would be able to handle 911 phone calls in the event of losing phone service at the dispatch center in Dresden. That equipment is currently en route to Dresden.
“This is a worst-case scenario for us. We have been able to communicate from the sheriff’s office using Twitter to keep people informed and radios for dispatching emergency personnel,” Peevyhouse added.
Phone and Internet service went down around 12:30 p.m. on Friday in Dresden after lightning struck a tree behind a Frontier main switch.
“It was a once in a lifetime occurrence,” David Sudberry of Frontier said, explaining the frequency of the lightening strikes hit the switch, the commercial transfer, the generator and the main power room. He added he could not recall this ever happening before.
Sudberry said Frontier employees worked around the clock and were also assisted by Northern Telecom to get the system back up and running. By late Monday, most of the areas that included Palmersville, Dresden and Latham were online.
With phone lines out, first responders across the area helped each other throughout the weekend.
From Friday until Monday afternoon, the MPD dispatch division took 74 of the county’s 911 calls.
MPD Communications Super-visor Katie Perry said the dispatch center has tried to staff at least two personnel throughout the weekend to handle the influx of county calls.
Perry added that a low number of calls had been received as a result of flooding roadways and only one accident had been reported.
Weakley County Road Super-visor Kermit Hopper noted that at least six roadways within the county were closed on Friday due to ponding and flash flooding.
On Monday, most of those roads were re-opened after water had receded from the county roads.
“We are driving around now to assess the damage from the flooding and how many repairs we need to make,” Hopper commented.
“We’ve been very blessed this time. It could have been much worse than what it was,” he added.
Sudberry added that because of the unusual nature of the situation, Northern Telecom assisted the local branch of Frontier.
“Frontier and Northern Tele-com have made every asset available. They shipped cars, purchased equipment for this area,” Sudberry said, citing that the lightening strike caused more than $100,000 worth of damage to the main switch.
All services were expected to be back in place by late Monday afternoon.