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‘It was busy, but we were prepared’ – County deals with frigid temperatures over holidays
One of several trees that fell in Forsyth County over the holiday weekend as temperatures fell to single digits.- Photo courtesy of Sawnee EMC

Emergency crews had a busy Christmas weekend in Forsyth County as temperatures fell to single digits.

Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Grimes said crews were in communication over the weekend to handle any emergencies the cold weather brought, including trees on roads, water and power issues and other emergency calls.

“It was busy, but we were prepared, and we were flexible,” Grimes said. “We had to kind of bend and regroup, but it all went really well.”

Grimes said there was communication between his office, the Forsyth County Fire Department, law enforcement and utility providers to monitor emergencies and responses.

Between Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 26, the coldest days of the winter weather, the Forsyth County Fire Department responded to a total of 431 incidents, according to Division Chief Jason Shivers.

Shivers said of those calls, eight were for structure fires, three for vehicle fires, more than 140 were for medical emergencies, more than 160 were for ruptured pipes or sprinkler systems and 10 were for serious vehicle wrecks, including a fatal wreck at River Club Drive on Christmas Eve.

“I think overall it was a very busy weekend for us,” Grimes said. “I know our fire department stayed very busy responding to water leaks and sprinkler systems and fire alarms, helping a lot of folks out in the community with that.”

Despite several calls for structure fires, Shivers said no one was displaced and two occupants had smoke inhalation issues but refused transport.

Shivers said a firefighter received a “minor shoulder injury” after falling down a set of stairs while fighting a fire in the home’s second level but is expected to return for his next scheduled shift.

Many were left without power, with Sawnee EMC having a peak of more than 1,500 members in the seven-county service area being affected on Friday, Dec. 26 and asking customers the following day to conserve power while there was stress on the electrical system

Another noticeable impact of the weather was low or no water pressure for residents living north of Hwy. 369 on Christmas Day, followed by a boil-water advisory until Wednesday, Dec. 28.

"The [advisory] was issued after some customers experienced little or no water pressure on Dec. 25 due to a frozen pump station valve at the north high pump station," Forsyth County officials said in a news release. "Water quality tests have been completed and indicate the water is safe for consumption without boiling."

With the cold snap coming over the holidays, Grimes applauded the efforts of workers from various agencies to keep county residents safe.

“We knew that there were things that had to get done,” Grimes said. “We knew that we had to take care of the community and their visitors.”