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News crews remember the Blizzard of '93

8:12 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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When the storm of the century ripped through East Tennessee some people had to come to work.

Folks on the job included police, firefighters, medical workers, and power crews as well as news crews who covered the storm.

Some of those people no longer work in news but still have vivid memories of the Blizzard of '93.

Darrell DeBusk was a news photographer at WBIR-TV then and he remembers it well.

"So the assignment that morning that Friday morning the 12th was for Ken Schwall and I to go out and cover all the people rushing out to buy sleds. Well, the only problem with that is there was no-one buying sleds because the weather was so nice. They were calling for the snow to start that afternoon and here it was that afternoon and it had not started so we actually, you've heard the term make lemonade out of lemons, that's exactly what we did," he said.

DeBusk made it home and the evening crew took over.

Chuck Denney was a reporter at the time.

"We were making fun of the weather people in the afternoon because it was only raining. They were saying storm of the century. We weren't buying it. About mid-evening it started to snow and by 11:00 it was snowing really hard like you could barely see out of the windshield of your car. And I did a live shot on the Buck Karnes bridge on Alcoa Highway. Al Klensch did a live shot in the Old City. And after that I did make it home to my apartment in West Knoxville but barely. It took about 2 or 3 hours. I got home just in time for the power to go out," he said.

Denney wasn't the only one to lose power. Electricity was out at homes and businesses including the local TV stations.

Channel 10 powered up a big green generator to stay on the air and bring viewers the latest on the blizzard.

At the time, DJ Corcoran was a news photographer at Channel 8 located on a steep hill: Sharp's Ridge.

"I remember putting all my equipment - the old ikigamis and the 3/4 inch deck - putting it in a plastic garbage can and using that and then scooting down that driveway on my rear end in snow that was probably a foot deep I guess. And then getting back down to the bottom of the driveway and then we would have Bob Glenn take us down to the parking lot so we could get a news car," DJ Corcoran said.

Driving was difficult in the snow. A tow truck had to rescue an Action 10 News vehicle after photographer Jerry Owens backed it into a snow covered ditch.

The other big event that Friday night was Tennessee taking on Kentucky in the SEC Tournament at Rupp Arena.

Sports photographer Scott Liston was there with the blizzard on its way.

"Got up the next morning about 5:00 trying to race the storm. Got all the way to the Jellico Mountain exit and I was the 10th car in line before they closed the interstate. So I spent the next half hour going back five exits trying to find a hotel. So I found a little no-tel motel with luckily a Cracker Barrel across the street. So that's basically how I spent my '93 blizzard. Basically watching the snow and eating pancakes," Scott Liston said.

As for Ken Schwall and Darrell DeBusk who doubted the forecast...

"Fortunate for me I got snowed in so I got to watch all my colleagues out there and got to be an actual spectator at home watching it on TV," DeBusk said.

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