No significant damage was reported here in Monday night's storm that left destruction across many areas of the southeastern United States.
“We slipped through without any major problems,” said Pickens Fire Chief Bob Howard. “We had a few power lines down. But no injuries or structural damage was reported.”
Howard said they responded to one call of downed power lines on a house that were sparking, but it didn’t start a blaze.
Reports on Tuesday morning were of some areas around Pickens County still without power and lines down in a few locations.
However Chief Howard said the 911 center reported serious “gridlock” from non-emergency calls.
“In Pickens County we did pretty good with the weather, but we did have one problem, residents who wanted to call 911 gridlocked the system. They wanted information on power outages, and even called to ask if we knew anything about Gilmer County,” the chief said.
Howard stressed that 911 is the number to call to report emergencies and nothing else. Power outages, unless you are on medical equipment with no backup, finding out whether a tornado hit Gilmer County or not or generally wanting to know what conditions are like are not emergencies. He termed these “nonsense calls.”
Howard said they logged at least a half-dozen calls of people here seeking information on Gilmer County conditions.
With four dispatchers, Howard said they don’t have time to take power outage calls and provide further information on Code Reds -- the automated phone warning system.
“Last night we got through okay because there weren’t any real emergency calls,” he said. “But if we had a real event, I can see someone dying because they couldn’t get through if we had that many people calling and gridlocking the system.”