BLACK FRIDAY BLACKOUT

By Jacob E. Rosenbaum

In most years, “Black Friday” is a metaphorical term, referring to the chaotic shopping frenzy that takes place following the Thanksgiving Holiday, but this year it was more than just a figure of speech for over 2/3 of Fentress County residents, who were left in the dark for nearly four hours due an issue with a main power line coming from Pickett County.

The electricity flow initially began fluctuating shortly after 5:00 p.m., blinking in and out at least twice before going out completely at approximately 5:15 p.m.

Although radio broadcasts were temporarily disrupted before the stations could switch to generator power, by as early as 6 o’clock p.m. they were back on the air, and local government officials had begun communicating with TVA and the general public about the situation.  County Executive Jimmy Johnson and Mayor Lyndon Baines of Jamestown were among the earliest responders to the event, contacting WDEB Radio and Fentress EMA and informing local citizens about the situation.

Although there was no power, landlines and cell phones, for the most part, continued to be functional throughout the situation. The Banner Springs, Grimsley, and Clarkrange communities were also unaffected by the outage, as their power originates at a different source.

Fentress County EMA Director James Bilbrey placed the Emergency Operations Center on partial activation, putting emergency services on standby and advising the community that they should contact E-911 in the event of a personal emergency.

TVA was quick to make efforts to remedy the power issue. They were very quickly able to identify that the problem had originated from a main line at a  TVA sub-station located somewhere between Livingston and Jamestown (the issue was eventually identified as a faulty wave trap at the main substation in Monroe, TN, in Pickett County) but they were cautious about the timeframe it would take to repair the line. Initial estimates ranged from four hours to all night before the issue could be resolved.

However, by 9:00 p.m., power was restored to the majority of homes that had experienced the outage, and full power was restored to all Fentress County residents by 11:00 p.m. In total, 7,672 homes were without power for nearly four hours, and  some for even longer.

Fentress EMA Director James Bilbrey issued a genuine “Thank You” to the following organizations for their participation in the management of the situation:

Read the rest of the story in this weeks Fentress Courier.