City and county officials were thankful for an uneventful day during Thursday’s winter storm.
The Ottawa and Wellsville police departments did not receive reports of any vehicle wrecks.
“People were taking it slow and being cautious,” Casey Crane, Ottawa police patrol division commander, said. “It was very quiet. There was no weather-related accidents Thursday. The city crews got on top of it pretty good. There was a lot of sand out there.”
Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said his office encountered a few vehicle slide-offs and minor accident calls.
“There was not any exorbitant amount of problems,” he said. “It was so cold a lot of people wanted to stay in. What helped was it had been so nice and mild, when that cold front hit, it was a shock. People did not want to get out and do anything.”
Officials said having the schools closed helped keep the traffic down.
“We lucked out,” John Blair, Wellsville police chief, said. “We did not have near the amount of vehicle accidents or slide-offs [expected].”
The City of Ottawa’s utilities department reported no weather-related incidents.
“We have not had any out-of-the-ordinary problems at all,” Dennis Tharp, utilities director, said, “We have been pretty lucky here. We have had a couple of broken water mains as we have gone along. That is typical as the weather gets like this. We expect to see two or three of those. As far as electric, we have had no problems.”
Tharp said there was not a build up of ice on the power lines nor problems with tree limbs falling down.
“We have been getting better and better at keeping trees trimmed back,” he said. “We are not having some of those type of outages. Keeping those trees trimmed back off the line is a huge deal in any kind of weather event. That made a difference.”
The city and county public works were the busiest of the departments, attending to the roads. Jim Haag, county public works department director, said the county began to salt and sand roads at 7 a.m. Thursday. He said the county did pretreat some of the bridges before Thursday morning’s cold front hit the area.
“The rain did its best to wash it off,” he said.
Michael Haeffele, Ottawa public works director, said city crews worked as quickly as possible throughout Thursday to treat the streets.
“The streets in town for the most part are clear,” he said. “It got a little slick for a little bit. Obviously, it is winter time and cold...you still need to use caution because there still will be slick spots. There is no way shape or form we could get every patch of ice.”
Law enforcement officials warned the cold temperatures coupled with any moisture refreezing or from the night air could still cause slick spots throughout the winter season.
“You have to remember you can’t always see what the surface of the road [looks like],” Crane said. “It may look safe and dry. You get that thin layer [of ice] on top and it can send you careening into the ditch. You don’t even know what happened. Everybody needs to slow down, leave that extra distance between themselves and the next vehicle. Try to ease into the brakes when you get up to the intersections.”
Richards said if a person is involved in a slide-off or wreck, they need to be cautious of the traffic.
“Their safety matters just as much after that crash as it does during the crash,” he said. “Wearing a seat belt will help during the crash, but if they get out and walk around, the other traffic is paying attention to the car they see. They may not see that person standing in the lane or shoulder and they may get hit. That happens all too often. Stay in a safe place whether it is in their vehicle or off the road somewhere.”
Richards said people can prepare for the cold temperatures by putting blankets, flashlights and jumper cables in the vehicles and having their cellphones charged up before leaving the house.