Franklin County weathered Tuesday’s extreme winter conditions much better than it wrestled last week’s storm, county officials say.
The winter storm that arrived late Monday night and stuck around through Wednesday morning dumped 8 inches of snow on the area, according to the Ottawa Water Treatment Plant. Residents seemed more willing to heed officials’ warnings during the more recent round of winter weather, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday morning.
“There was very little traffic. There was very little movement,” Fredricks said. “I think people last week realized this could be bad, and they stayed home.”
Sheriff’s deputies responded to one minor injury wreck and less than 10 incidents of vehicles sliding off the road on Tuesday, Fredricks said Wednesday. That number is in stark contrast, he said, to the 127 vehicle “slide-offs” that were reported during the Feb. 21 storm.
It was again all hands on deck for this week’s storm, Fredricks said, but deputies spent the majority of their time doing “frost patrol,” or looking for people who might be in trouble on roadways and doing welfare checks.
A declaration of disaster declared last week expired Wednesday. Alan Radcliffe, county emergency management director, recommended to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners that it extend the declaration another week.
“We’re not through this yet,” Radcliffe told the board Wednesday before it voted unanimously to extend the declaration.
Radcliffe added that, to qualify for federal disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, snowfall totals have to be near or surpass record levels. He said totals were not that high, and the county likely would not qualify for relief funds.
The storm left about 3,500 Franklin County residents without power, Radcliffe said. By Wednesday morning, power in much of the county had been restored, but about 1,000 customers still were in the dark, he said. Wellsville and Pomona were without power Tuesday, Radcliffe said, and were the only communities that had any major issues.
Pomona, which has its own power company serviced by Kansas City Power & Light Co., was in the worst shape, Radcliffe said. About a dozen people spent Tuesday night in a shelter set up at the Pomona Community Building, 219 Jefferson St., because of the lack of power, he said.
County public works crews worked to clear roadways so KCP&L and Lyon-Coffey Rural electric crews could reach areas to repair the power outages, Jim Haag, county public works director, said.
“We plowed in for Lyon-Coffey and Kansas City Power & Light,” Haag said. “We had a motor grader on Sand Creek [Road] where they lost a half mile of poles. We got their stuck truck out at Alabama and Reno roads.”
The majority of county roads were open Wednesday, Haag said, but crews were working to remove large snow drifts in some areas of the county. That work was likely to continue into Thursday, he said.
With barely enough time to recover from last week’s snow storm, city crews were working around the clock to clear roads, Melissa Fairbanks, Ottawa human resources director, said. This week’s snow event brought the snow total for the year to 19 inches, according to the Ottawa Water Treatment Plant.