Written by Wes Golden
Montgomery County Mayor
Hello Montgomery County.
We went through quite a weather event several days ago! I write to encourage and help us realize the enormity of what happened and the blessings of what did not happen.
What we expected on Friday was some thunderstorms and a tornado watch with wind gusts between 45 to 55 miles an hour throughout the day. We got a tornado watch through 1:00pm and sustained winds through 6:00pm recorded as high as 79 miles per hour with the greatest wind measurements and wind speeds in Middle Tennessee.
We experienced the same atmospheric pressure as a Category 1 hurricane. As a result, power was lost to over 30 thousand customers in the City and 9,500 customers in the County’s unincorporated area. Trees, electrical poles, and power lines were down all over our County, traffic was backed-up, and the property was damaged.
The sounds and imagery that occurred were scary and unnerving, to say the least. In the light of the following day, it was easy to see the ferocity of the winds and count our blessings, which I’ll get to shortly.
What made this different from other wind/storm events was not only the magnitude of the damage to the trees, lines, and poles on the ground but also the fact that it lasted for so many hours and covered such an extensive area from one end of the County to the other. Some of our senior Montgomery Countians commented online that they had never seen anything like what happened Friday because of how long, fierce, and widespread the winds persisted.
With all of that happening, I witnessed people at their very best in the midst of a bad situation. The linemen for CDE Lightband and Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (CEMC) went straight to work, 911 Dispatchers assisted over 1,000 callers, and our Clarksville Police and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office were working to keep order on the roads and stop people from going over deadly power lines. The City Street Department, City Fire & Rescue, Highway Department, County volunteer firefighters, and helpful neighbors we will never know about were cutting and moving what they could as quickly as possible.
Behind the scenes, our County’s Emergency Operations Center was up and running with representatives from all City and County public safety operations, CDE, and our local Red Cross pulling information together in one location to communicate quickly about the most dangerous and high-priority areas and collecting info on damaged homes. They disclosed info to the public almost as quickly as it was collected, and our local media also worked to report the updates to residents.
In addition to the linemen, CDE and CEMC dispatchers, engineers, member service reps, and other staff have been busily working behind the scenes in their operations centers handling logistics, constantly monitoring, communicating, and updating those on the ground and residents.
Now, my favorite part, we have been blessed, Montgomery County! With 79 miles per hour winds, debris flying everywhere, giant trees falling to the ground, power lines down, and many traffic lights out of commission, we had zero fatalities and no serious injuries. By Friday evening, when the winds had died down, our Emergency Services Director reported that there were three minor injuries directly related to the storm. That is miraculous. We have many reasons to be thankful!
Our School System chose to err on the side of caution and wisely decided to close schools on Friday. That meant no buses, no parent pick-ups, and no children traveling the roads during the timing of some of the worst devastation. Thank you Clarksville-Montgomery County School System!
We also had individuals and groups praying all over our County from the day before and through the storms requesting protection for our people and property. I believe in the power of prayer. For those who were and are still without power, we can take comfort in the fact that we have had unseasonably favorable temperatures which have kept residents relatively comfortable and our linemen safe from battling weather challenges.
After the storm, our power companies made tremendous gains within the first 24 hours, and we are now down to less than 600 residents without power. Throughout the outage, most people have been patient and grateful for the efforts of our power companies. That is appreciated.
The power companies knew that to get people back online as soon as possible they would need backup. They called in more than 65 additional crews. To give you some perspective, they called in 27 additional crews following the storms of October 2019. People went out of their way to thank the professionals in the field and local businesses donated food to keep our power workers fueled and on task.
Even though some people experienced damage, inconvenience, and the loss of groceries, we are so very blessed. All those things can be replaced. What we cannot replace is Montgomery County’s most valued resource, which is our people.
If there is a better way for us to communicate with you during future events, please let us know by calling 931.648.8482 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To say I am proud to serve as Mayor of this great County is an understatement. This is an amazing community because we have amazing people. Let us always remember that.