Thursday, July 31, 2014

County preps for new storm; crews likely to wait until morning to clear roads

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer | 2/25/2013

Authorities are urging residents to stay inside Monday through Round 2 of extreme winter weather.

Those who are not required to go outside should stay indoors, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday. The storm is expected to hit at the end of the work day for many, Fredricks said, and the sheriff’s office is preparing for the worst.

“If it’s anything like it was Thursday, we’re looking at a lot of people out on the roads, especially with it hitting later in the day,” Fredricks said.

A winter storm with blizzard-like conditions is expected to hit Franklin County at about 5 p.m. Monday and persist through the overnight hours and Tuesday morning. With winds in the 30-mile-per-hour range, whiteout conditions are likely, making travel extremely hazardous.

The disaster declaration from last week’s winter storm will continue through today’s second storm and is expected to expire Wednesday, Lisa Johnson, county administrator and counselor, said. This declaration qualifies the county for possible state and federal emergency funds that might be distributed, she said.

Stranded motorists were a common sight Thursday, Fredricks said, with more than 120 incidents of vehicles sliding off the roadway. Wait times for tow trucks hit nearly seven hours Thursday, he said. With three tow services in the county — two in Ottawa and one in Wellsville — resources likely will be just as stretched during this week’s winter storm, he said.

County officials expected to make a decision Monday afternoon on whether to close county offices early, Johnson said. Essential county personnel, like emergency personnel and county road crews, will continue service, she said.

County road crews were making preparations for the storm Monday morning, Jim Haag, county public works director, said, but safety is a chief concern.

“I anticipate if we have blizzard conditions tonight that for the safety of our employees and to keep our equipment upright, we probably won’t be out and will wait until it’s early morning daylight hours that we will be clearing,” Haag said.

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