Published On: Tue, Jan 26th, 2016

Tribe weathers snow storm well

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

Winter Storm Jonas dumped a fair amount of snow on Cherokee this past week.  Ranging from a few inches in places to over a foot in higher elevations, snow blanketed the area for most of the week.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians governmental programs were closed Wednesday, Jan. 20 through Friday, Jan. 22, but some Tribal officials and programs were busy making sure essential services were maintained.

This photo, by One Feather reader Lisa Spring Wilnoty, was taken from J.D. Lambert Road in the Birdtown Community and shows vehicles traveling on Highway 19 on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

This photo, by One Feather reader Lisa Spring Wilnoty, was taken from J.D. Lambert Road in the Birdtown Community and shows vehicles traveling on Highway 19 on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Principal Chief Patrick Lambert thanked many of the staff in a Facebook message.  “We have a high quality and dedicated staff who has answered the call of duty to help our Tribal Members.  The public has also been very understanding, we have worked extra hard to answer every call.”

Chief Lambert recognized the Emergency Management team and the Cherokee DOT road crews for their efforts.  “Great job on keeping up and getting ahead of the storms.”

Anthony Sequoyah, EBCI Emergency Services director, commented, “We were prepared for the event.  Everything went well, and everybody seemed to be satisfied.”

The Emergency Services Division includes Emergency Management, Cherokee Fire Department, and the Cherokee EMS Department, and Sequoyah related that all three departments worked well together.  “We didn’t have any hold-ups.  It went as planned.” He added that they worked to make sure dialysis patients and medical patients were taken care of and elders were checked on.

Sequoyah also noted, “The Chief’s Office was very supportive.  We did open a shelter at Birdtown, and it stayed open for about 48 hours.  We had a few that came and stayed at the shelter.  Food was provided and lodging was provided for them.”

Jeremy Hyatt, EBCI Natural Resources and Construction program manager who oversees CDOT, praised the program’s efforts during the storm, “I am proud and honored to work with such a fine group of hardworking individuals.  The men and women of CDOT each worked over 90 hours in five days making sure our roads were scraped and cleared for travel.  They were out on the treacherous roads fighting a difficult battle with Mother Nature, and they did so quite persistently.”

An elk takes advantage of a break between storms to nibble some shrubs in the Yellowhill Community on Thursday, Jan. 21. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

An elk takes advantage of a break between storms to nibble some shrubs in the Yellowhill Community on Thursday, Jan. 21. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

He added, “I would also like to thank Robbie and Anthony with Tribal Emergency Management, Tribal Transit, the Tribal Facilities staff, Qualla Housing Authority, the Cherokee Fire Department, Cherokee EMS, Tribal Construction, and the Cherokee Boy’s Club for all of their manpower and equipment support.  We could not have done anything without their immeasurable cooperation.”

Cherokee Indian Hospital officials related there were no admissions due to storm-related injuries.

Casey Cooper, Cherokee Indian Hospital chief executive officer, commented, “The essential services of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Emergency Department and the Inpatient Unit remained open and operational throughout the snow storm.  This was possible because our dedicated staff volunteered to stay in hotel rooms so they could make it to work.  All our staff pulled together to support each other.  Our dietary staff provided food services for our patients and for staff.  Our maintenance team worked tirelessly before, during and after hours removing snow from the parking lots and transporting essential personnel to ensure that services were available to the community.”

Duke Power officials told the One Feather that Jackson County had a total of 2,800 outages in the storm and Swain County had around 1,700.