I have joked about the weather weenies here in Nashville, but I overlooked just how dangerous these conditions can be — and have been — when they occur as rarely as they do in Nashville.
According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency 18 people have lost their lives in the past five days. As of this writing the entire state is in a Level III state of emergency, with severe cold, snow, freezing rain and rain in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow.
I’m a native Iowan who has dealt with snow and sub-zero temperatures my entire life. So to hear that 18 people have died this week is a bit hard to understand. So I went in search of more details.
I knew about two of the deaths, the tragic story of Kristi Clark and her 10-year-old son, Carter Oakley, who died trying to help others who had encountered trouble. (They are the Williamson County fatalities in the list below. Williamson is just outside Nashville, which is most of Davidson County.)
The deaths are not atypical for winter months, but Tennessee experience a season’s worth of death in just five days.
Here is the list of those who have died. The hypothermia cases are probably people who were homeless.
- Benton County: 64-year-old female, motor vehicle accident
- Hamilton County: 63-year-old male, hypothermia related
- Henry County (2): 64-year-old female, hypothermia related; 69-year-old male, hypothermia related
- Hickman County: 67-year-old male, dialysis patient, unable to get to treatment
- Knox County (4): 30-year-old male, motor vehicle accident; 75-year-old male, fire; 68-year-old female, fire; 47-year-old male, fire
- Moore County: 73-year-old male, hypothermia
- Overton County: 38-year-old female, motor vehicle accident
- Roane County: 44-year-old male, hypothermia related
- Sequatchie: 85-year-old male, hypothermia related
- Shelby County (3): 48-year-old male, hypothermia related; (age unknown) male, hypothermia related; (demographics unknown), hypothermia related
- Williamson County (2): 34-year-old female; 10-year-old male, motor vehicle accident
When the temperatures don’t usually dip this low, the homeless can usually survive outside or in makeshift shelters.
When it only snows an inch or so per season, you never really learn how to drive, and especially how to stop, in these conditions.
Much of Nashville and Tennessee is hilly, preventing people from getting around. Police, firefighters and ambulance drivers are not immune to these driving conditions.
Let’s hope the worst of the winter is now behind us.