(WJHL)- The Unicoi County Highway Department spent their Christmas Eve preparing for inclement weather coming later in the day.

“I know it’s Christmas Eve and Christmas and they want to be with their families and we’re going to do the best we can to keep the roads clear,” said Unicoi County Road Superintendent Terry Haynes.

The highway department has about 1,200 tons of salt ready to go and trucks loaded in preparation for Thursday’s winter weather.

“If you’re traveling you need to do it early,” said Haynes. “Maybe try to leave a little early. But please, if you’re traveling, if it’s ice, put a blanket in the car, an extra blanket, especially if you have kids, a flashlight, a bottle of water. Something so you can stay warm in case you so slide off the road.”

The bad weather isn’t the only issue the highway department is dealing with this year.

“We’re fighting this COVID issue,” explained Haynes. “The highway departments are, and I only have like 15 people. So I’m having to break them up into groups of seven to work one week and this is just not a very good time.”

Carter County’s highway department usually works with 40 employees but are down to 30 because of COVID-19.

“We have six people in the past month who has been quarantined with it,” said Carter County Road Superintendent Roger Colbaugh.

Colbaugh said his team has about 16 trucks and snowplows loaded with salt in preparation for what’s to come.

“After dark, it’s going to get cold enough to where the rain will turn into snow and for the next 24 hours we are going to get three to six inches of snow.”

The highway departments say the only way they know if a road needs to be salted is if they get a call from dispatch or citizens.

They are asking people to call dispatchers or the highway departments if you come across a road with ice or snow.