The Plateau was hit by a storm on Sunday evening with high winds and damaging lightning that knocked down trees and power lines throughout the area leaving thousands in the dark.
State, county, and local fire and utility crews were out early this morning and well into Monday afternoon working diligently to clear roads and restore power to area customers.
Cashiers-Glenville Volunteer Fire Department received numerous calls throughout the night with reports of lightning strikes, downed and burning power lines, and fallen trees blocking roads and damaging houses.
“The wind last night was about as bad as I’ve ever heard it here,” said CGFD Chief Randy Dillard. “It was bad. A lot of people are comparing it to Hurricane Opal in 2005. Back then we closed three out of the four main roads into Cashiers because of fallen trees. We kept all of them open last night. We did good. We had 8 guys and we just divided everything up and took care of each call one by one.”
Dillard added that NC Department of Transportation and Duke Energy crews were out last night shutting off the power so fire crews could do their job.
“State DoT and Duke crews did great,” said Dillard. “They were out there helping where we needed, we can’t do anything until the power is killed. It makes a big difference when everyone comes together.”
Jackson County Emergency Management Director Todd Dillard said fire and utility crews are still responding to calls of reports of downed trees and power lines as of Monday afternoon and urges everyone to use caution when traveling.
“Jackson County has several state and private roads blocked due to wash outs, trees down, and mudslides,” said Todd. “If you see downed power lines do not approach, instead call 911.”
Todd added there were no reports of storm-related injuries (or any injuries) to residents or fire crews as of Monday afternoon.
Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad EMS Chief Jeremy Stewart said GCRS crews were clearing trees this morning, but didn’t have any calls last night.
“It went good last night,” said Stewart. “We didn’t have any major flooding issues and just had a few fallen trees.
Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor said last night’s storm knocked out the power for two-thirds of the town’s customers. Town crews also went out first thing this morning responding to reports of downed trees and power lines.
“That was a tremendous storm,” said Taylor. “We tried to get crews out last night, but the wind was so strong it was a safety hazard. So, they went out this morning and started clearing fallen trees and getting the power back on.”
He added that several utility poles were also knocked down, which is more difficult and time consuming to repair than a broken power line.
“We have lost several utility poles and there’s a tremendous amount of erosion and runoff in the area,” said Taylor. “This takes time to fix and crews are working diligently to restore power and prioritize each problem as it’s reported.”
Taylor encourages people to visit Macon County’s website and sign up for Code Red alerts to receive a warning notification for future dangerous incidents, like last night’s tornado watch that was in effect until 2 a.m.
Click HERE to sign up for Code Red alerts.
Click HERE for outage updates from Duke Power.