Moore County braces for ice, sleet, and snow

{Editor’s Note: This is an evolving story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.}

Ice and freezing fog hangs over Mount Herman Road on Sunday morning. Metro Moore County Deputy Dustin White captured this shot while evaluating local roads. (Photo Provided)

LYNCHBURG — With visions of the 1994 ice storm that crippled Moore County swimming in their heads, locals in Moore and the surrounding counties braced for a winter weather emergency on Sunday.

According to Mayor Bonnie Lewis, Metro’s response to the winter event started well before the National Weather Service upgraded Moore County from a Winter Weather Watch to a Winter Weather Warning on Saturday. Members of each metro department met at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Saturday to make a plan. At least one member from each department will be sheltering in place either at the EOC or their respective departments until the winter weather watch expires.

“This is definitely a high alert event,” said Metro EMA Director Jason Deal. “Locals need to take it seriously and get prepared.”

Director Deal said the at their 1 p.m. briefing on Sunday, the National Weather Service upgraded Moore County to a Winter Weather Advisory (meaning their level of certainty of severe weather hitting Lynchburg is high) and increased the amount of anticipated accumulation to as much as a half inch of snow, sleet, and ice.

Director Deal said that extra EMS staff would be put in place around 8 p.m. on Sunday including staffing an extra ambulance.

That advisory goes into effect around 6 p.m. on Sunday and extends until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16 for all of the Tennessee Valley including Moore, Lincoln, and Grundy counties.

Officials at the Metro Utilities Department said regularly scheduled garbage pick up would not happen on Monday or Tuesday and the Metro Convenience Center would remain closed both those days as well.

According to the Huntsville Weather Service, folks in Moore County should expect ice accumulations that will translate into extremely hazardous travel conditions.

Both Metro Highway Department and TDOT officials salted area roads in advance of the predicted snow, sleet, and ice but Mayor Lewis stated that she and EMA Director Jason Deal strongly encouraged anyone who can stay at home and off local roadways to do so to prevent placing first responders at risk.

Moore County Schools and the Metro government offices already planned to be closed on Monday for President’s Day. Mayor Lewis said she anticipated that they would remain closed on Tuesday based on the forecast. Metro Director of School Chad Moorehead said he would constantly evaluate local roads and make the call about Tuesday schools opening as soon as possible.

In an abundance of caution, Mayor Lewis also decided to postponed the regularly scheduled Metro Council meeting until March 1.

“We decided to postponed rather than cancel it because there is a time-sensitive zoning issues on the agenda,” Mayor Lewis told The Times.

The Times also reached out to Missy Woodard from Woodard’s Market who stated that they would attempt to stay open regular hours for Moore County folks. They will close at 7 p.m. on Sunday and the deli will close at 5 p.m. as usual. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Essential: Metro EMS Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith

Metro EMS Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith say the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely changed the way they work. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

{Editor’s Note: This is the third of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

Sirens blaring … adrenaline pumping … usually the first thing on Moore County paramedics Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith’s minds is what they can do for their patient. Today, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, they’re forced to add another layer … protecting themselves.

As a result, the pair says they spend an extra two hours each day sanitizing and cleaning the entire ambulance and EMS building. At a call, they now wear masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. Dispatchers also execute more advanced call screening.

“Used to be, we could rush in and be very aggressive,” Smith says. “Now, it takes a minute to suit up.”

The duo have worked together as paramedic partners for about a year.

Smith is a native of Moore County who still lives here with his wife, Belinda, and sons, Chandler and Cayden. He’s worked in emergency services for the past 28 years and currently serves as an advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) for Metro EMS.

Clark’s hails from Lincoln County. He’s a former critical care paramedic with Huntsville Med Flight, who’s worked in Moore County for the past six years. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Anita.

They both say they noticed fewer calls after Governor Bill Lee’s Stay at Home order but now calls seem to be picking up again. Smith says the majority are non-Coronavirus calls and more a result of the “spring trauma” season.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from folks being hurt at home doing projects,” he says. “We’re also getting calls from people who have one or two COVID-like symptoms that just want to be checked but most don’t want to be transferred to a hospital because of the risks.”

When asked about Moore County’s zero confirmed cases, both Smith and Clark agree that there are likely cases in Moore County that just haven’t been tested.

“They are hardly testing anybody,” Clark adds. “It’s also possible that someone’s had it but fully recovered.”

They also both fear that the worst is yet to come and encourage locals to stay diligent.

“Don’t relax,” Smith says. “Keep staying apart even though it’s hard.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}