Road crews prepare for winter weather

Unicoi County has eight snow plows ready for when snow arrives. (WCYB/Caleb Perhne)

County highway departments are on standby after preparing for winter weather.

Unicoi County Highway Superintendent Terry Haynes is watching snowfall approach. He's been at the job for two decades, so he's prepared with eight trucks and 1,600 tons of salt.

"The first snow is always the rough one,” Haynes said. “You think you've got everything online, and you think you're ready to go. You'll get out there and one of the drivers will have a flat."

He's had the plows ready to go since November. Fifteen men are on standby to keep the roads clear.

"These guys run day and night,” he said. “The only time they'll take a nap is if they can pull over, lay their head on the steering wheel."

Haynes said he's always the first to go out and check the roads. Some are difficult to clear. One road on the southern end of the county is so narrow and has such a steep dropoff crews have to salt it backwards before plowing. Even the flatter roads can sometimes be hard to keep clear.

"You can scrape it off and have it cleaned,” Haynes said. “By the time you go up to the other end and come back, you've got just as much snow on it again as you did the first time you came through here and pulled it off."

Haynes recommended keeping extra food, water, flashlights and fuel for heat when that kind of snow comes.

"Neighbors need to look after neighbors during this time, especially if they're at an age where they can't get in and get out."

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