Winter Storm Diego leaves property damage and power outages in its wake

Winter Storm Diego has left a number of people without power and downed trees and power lines throughout the area. The snow began to fall late afternoon on Saturday and after a brief pause, started to come down again during the early-morning hours on Sunday morning. Once the sun came up and the temperature rose above freezing, snow that had collected on branches throughout the area began weighting down limbs and falling.

One of the more destructive examples of damage is the canopy over the entrance to the Martin Lipscomb Performing Arts Center that collapsed at some point throughout the evening of Dec. 8. PAC Executive Director Mary Adair Trumbly said they have not completely assessed the damage yet, but no one was inside the building when it collapsed.

The canopy in the front of the Martin Lipscomb Performing Arts Center in Highlands collapsed after Winter Storm Diego hit on Saturday evening. Photo by Rachel Lewicki.

The PAC’s Holiday Reading remains as scheduled.

“Thank goodness no one was at PAC,” said Trumbly. “It will not affect any activity at PAC. The Holiday Reading will go on as scheduled Thursday night at 7 p.m. We won’t have a canopy with the pretty lights, but we will be open!”

Editor’s Note: This is coming from someone with no structural expertise, but looking at the damage from several angles while taking photos last night, it seems to be limited to the canopy, the building itself looked fine. Again, I have no structural expertise and at a casual glance a torn-up canopy looks bad, but I don’t think it’s that severe. Take a deep breath Mary, I think it looks worse than it is.

Fallen trees and power lines

A fallen tree hangs on a power line on Chestnut Street in Highlands, N.C. on Dec. 9 in the aftermath of Winter Storm Diego.

Up the road from the PAC along Chestnut Street was a fallen tree next to another fallen tree and multiple downed power lines.

Editor’s Note: I normally like to get up close with my photos but with the downed power lines and the deep pools of snow and slush along the road I pretty much hi-tailed it off that street and alerted the authorities through the proper channels.

On a positive note, Highlands Fire and Rescue Chief Ryan Gearhart said there were no calls of major incidents or injuries during the storm.

“Stay at home,” said Gearhart. “We haven’t had any major calls, just a few stuck motorists mainly.”

DOT and town crews worked throughout the night salting and keeping pace with the storm’s snowfall on Dec. 8 throughout Highlands.

Crews plowed and salted the main roads in town throughout the night.

There are still many people without power in the area. As of 12:09 a.m. today, Duke Energy’s website reported approx. 150,000 people in North Carolina without power, and in Macon County there are still 208 outages in 15 locations.

Plateau Daily News will continue to follow the storm’s aftermath as information is available.

Making the best of it

Monkey Hill (Hickory Street) had a narrow runway for sledders to navigate due to fallen tree limbs, but thanks to a chainsaw in the back of the truck, things were back to business in no time.
Pizza in hand, this group heads to Monkey Hill (Hickory Street) at approx. 2 a.m. along 4th Street in Highlands on Dec. 9 hoping enough powder has accumulated to attain proper sledding speeds.

Sledding was a little wet on Monkey Hill on Dec. 9 during the afternoon, but there were a couple adventurous people to hit the slopes.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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Holiday winter fun

On a brighter side, pictured below are some of the more festive scenes from Saturday’s storm.

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