Zeta tree Bridge Park

A Sylva town crew clears debris from Bridge Park after high winds tore through the area last week. 

By Dave Russell


Rain was plentiful, damage was minimal and sunlight was not visible last Thursday when Tropical Storm Zeta barreled through the region. 

The “spaghetti maps,” featuring thin lines predicting the path of the eye of the storm, on Wednesday showed it traversing the county just south of Tuckasegee. On Thursday, that line had moved to the Wilmot community further north.

At 5:45 a.m. Thursday, Duke Energy reported 14 events impacting 128 customers, spokeswoman Lisa Leatherman said.

By 11:45 a.m. there were 75 events impacting 1,394 customers, she said.

“In Jackson County Duke Energy serves 26,553 customers,” Leatherman said Thursday morning. “Damage assessment is ongoing and ETR – Estimated Time for Restoration – will be established once damage assessment is complete. The outages are scattered throughout the county with the largest concentrations in southern Jackson County around Lake Glenville. Downed trees and fallen limbs are the cause of the damage. Damage assessment continues and so far more than seven broken poles and several spans of down wire have been found in Jackson County.”

All customers were back online by 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Leatherman said on Monday. Duke brought in out of town crews to work on the powerlines.

A transformer was reported on the ground on Cagle Branch Road, off U.S. 23/441 near Lighthouse Baptist Church.

High winds knocked a large limb off an Amur maple (Acer ginnala) at Sylva’s Bridge Park.

“It’s too bad, because that’s a nice tree,” Director of Public Works Jake Scott said as he and his crew cut the limb up and hauled it off. “That’s the worst tree damage we’ve had (on town property).”

“We’ve had a lot of clogged drains because the leaves are down,” he said.

No landslides, including movement along the major slide that has Allen Street closed, were reported.

A tree fell on an occupied house at 599 Savannah Drive at about 8:40 a.m. Thursday. No one was injured. The tree fell on the drop line, which supplied power to the house. No other power outage was reported. (See story on page 1A.)

A transformer boomed in downtown Sylva at about 8:45 a.m. Power remained on for West Main Street, but Sylva Municipal Hall lost power.

“We had several trees down across the county, probably more in the Cashiers area in the southern end of the county,” Jackson County Emergency Services Director Todd Dillard said.

Winds gusted up to 82 mph in Cashiers, and 44 mph at the Jackson County Airport, according to media reports.

Crews from the N.C. Department of Transportation, Emergency Services, Duke Energy and Jackson County worked together to clear up the trees, he said.

Cedar Creek Road, which connects N.C. 107 in Glenville with U.S. 64 near Sapphire, washed out and remains closed.

“That is impacting the Christmas tree farmers up there, because they can’t get tractor-trailers up in there to get their trees to market,” Dillard said. “They’re having to make contingency plans for hauling the trees to other locations to get them loaded on trucks to get them shipped.”

A slide closed U.S. 64, but it has since re-opened. There were no injuries reported due to the storm, Dillard said.

On Sunday, more high winds rolled into the area. 

Sylva Public Works removed a downed tree on Ridgeway Street on Sunday. Two other trees fell but did not block roads, Public Works Director Jake Scott said.

Duke representative Leatherman on Monday reported 30 events impacting 600 customers.

Damage out in the county was minimal, Dillard said.

“Other than people who lost power, we had very few calls,” he said.