Gadsden bracing for winter blast

Conditions in Gadsden and across Etowah county continue to deteriorate.{} Snow started falling earlier Wednesday evening.

Around town, hotel rooms quickly booked up as people wait out the storm.

This is the weather that hospital personnel at Riverview Regional Medical Center have been preparing for all week.

"You'll see mattresses and cots on the floor. All of us have spent the last two nights here andwe're going to spend the night tonight," says Riverview CEO Jim Edmonds.

Edmonds shows us how this facility has become a shelter for doctors, nurses and other staff members. {}"Anticipating this, we had people come in on Monday morning with the expectationthat they would stay two days. And with the forecast, we keep extending that," says Edmonds.Edmonds knows this winter storm has been a burden on the nearly 200 staff members. "When you ask a nurse, housekeeping, a lab tech to spend 48 hours away from their home,from their families their children. Emotions start running a little thin. I'm super proud of our staff here."Across town at the Gadsden Inn and Suites, Jeff Martin at the front desk has been taking callsfrom people wanting to book a room before the storm hits.

"Phones have been ringing off the hook ever since I got here today," he says.The inn is also housing employees from Riverview hospital and surroundingbusinessesJoy Ballanger with the American Red Cross of Etowah and Cherokee county says shelters are opened in both counties. We want everybody to be Red Cross ready. We have cots and blankets, and meals will be there and we'll have volunteers there around the clock," says Ballanger.At the Etowah County EMA office, director Mike Bryant says his crews have planned for the worst. "If (snow) comes down heavy enough it's going to stick. It doesn't matter it's wet or dry, if the snow comes down at a heavy rate it will stick to whatever."