CROSSVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday urged people to check on their neighbors as the death toll from last week's ice storm climbs and as the National Weather Service predicts a new storm coming in.
Haslam flew over parts of the Cumberland Plateau Tuesday to survey much of the damage. State officials said Tuesday afternoon that at least 30 people have died across the state as a result of the ice storm and frigid temperatures. At least 10 are believed to have died as a result of hypothermia.
"The best thing we can do is ask people to be great neighbors," Haslam said. Many people, especially the elderly, either don't have the resources to leave their homes or simply don't want to go somewhere else, he said. The Tennessee National Guard and other agencies have been doing welfare checks.
"We've had people going through windows of mobile homes and everything else trying to make sure that we're checking every base that we can," Haslam told The Associated Press.
Some of the victims have died in their homes after being without heat. A number of people have been discovered dead outside their home, including two elderly people who are believed to have fallen and to have suffered from extreme exposure because they couldn't get up.
On Tuesday, Weakley County officials discovered the body of an 83-year-old man, who was found dead outside his home in Dresden, Tennessee. It appeared that he had gone to his mailbox and fallen on his ice-covered driveway and slid down a hill and was unable to get back up, Capt. Randall McGowan, of the Weakley County's Sheriff's Department, said. A Henry County woman died similarly. Authorities believe Brenda Cox, 64, slid off her porch last week and froze to death because she was unable to get up or call for help.
"She basically lay in the snow from 7 o'clock one night until 10:30 the next morning when she was found," said Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew. "She was a super nice lady," he said. "We hate to see anybody suffer the way Ms. Cox did."
It's important that people check on the elderly frequently in extreme weather situations because their bodies don't regulate temperature as well as others.
"They should not be alone for prolonged periods," said Corey Slovis, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt University. But the elderly aren't the only ones who are at risk.
On Monday, hunters discovered the body of 32-year-old Kenneth Mozingo in a wooded area in Campbell County. Investigators believe he became stranded in the woods several miles away from his vehicle, which had either become stuck or broken down. Preliminary reports indicate that Mozingo died as a result of extreme exposure, the Campbell County Sheriff's Department said.
Haslam spoke to retirees at Lake Tansi Village, a community of retirees and vacation homes in Crossville. Because many people only stay there for part of the year, emergency workers have had trouble figuring out where the residents are.
Sheila Burke reported in Nashville.