Propane shortage closes schools, keeps homes frigid - WSMV Channel 4

Propane shortage closes schools, keeps homes frigid

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In the midst of another blast of bitterly cold weather, a lot of people in Middle Tennessee can't turn on their heat.

Many families, businesses and schools that rely on propane for heat haven't been able to get it delivered. And it's been the distribution of propane that is the main problem, not the supply.

Some companies have had to go as far south as Mississippi and Texas to get propane, waiting up to nine hours to fill up before returning to Middle Tennessee.

Propane deliveries to some customers are currently as many as 10 days behind schedule and could take another two to three weeks to catch back up.

"Going on two weeks and we've had no heat. We're having to use space heaters to heat our entire home," said Joelton resident Jeff Lewallen. "We double up on blankets at night. We use space heaters. We keep the oven running all night. It's a dangerous situation to do those kind of things, but it's what we're having to do to keep warm."

Lewallen says he's never had a problem before. Usually, he just calls Cumberland River Propane when the gas is low and they come right out. But, this time around, he says they have the gas but not enough people to deliver it all.

"It started running low. We gave them a call. They said it will be a while before they got out. We initially ran out and we haven't had gas since," Lewallen said.

Schools in Stewart County are closed Thursday and Friday due to low levels of available propane to heat the school buildings. Workers at Stewart County Propane Gas told Channel 4 the demand for propane is high, and their priority is for residents over schools and churches. Stewart County Schools superintendent Phillip Wallace said just enough propane is still being used in schools to keep pipes from freezing. He said the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency may bring more propane to schools within the next five to six days.

The propane delivery issue is so dire across the state, Gov. Bill Haslam has declared a state of emergency to ensure uninterrupted propane deliveries.

Haslam signed an executive order to allow truck drivers carrying hazardous materials like propane to drive longer hours in order to get propane to homes and businesses who need it.

Nashville Electric Service is also trying to help. The agency says on days the high temperature is below freezing, it will not shut off electricity to customers who have overdue bills.

The Metropolitan Action Commission is working to help propane users find companies that can help.

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