Schools, government offices remain closed as residents hunker down, prepare for possible power outages

Last updated: February 12. 2014 12:03PM - 690 Views

Margo Bowker/Courtesy photoJenna Grace Bowker, 11, and baby brother Gabriel, age 2, try to catch falling snowflakes on their tongue Tuesday afternoon as they enjoy a taste of winter weather in Sampson.
Margo Bowker/Courtesy photoJenna Grace Bowker, 11, and baby brother Gabriel, age 2, try to catch falling snowflakes on their tongue Tuesday afternoon as they enjoy a taste of winter weather in Sampson.
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Lin Reynolds called it a waiting game Wednesday morning as he continued to monitor forecasts that called for Sampson to possibly get a mix of ice and snow that could snap power lines and down trees before the winter event ends later Thursday.


With Department of Transportation work crews on the roads, adding more salt and even a little sand to roadways in preparation for the next round of winter weather to come through Sampson this week, the DOT district engineer said assessing and being ready was all that could be done.


“We are out now adding salt and sand. After that, we’ll start to monitor and do what we can the rest of today,” Reynolds said as heavy snow began to fall Wednesday morning, the second round of the white powder in a 24-hour period.


After a full day of putting down brine on Monday followed by adding salt on Tuesday, Wednesday’s preparations were the exclamation point, the final fix before the predicted sleet and ice.


“We’ll have crews out tonight, taking phone calls, salting bridges and other problem areas around the county, and then it’ll be a wait and see kind of thing for tomorrow (Thursday). What we’re hearing now is that power lines and trees may come down. If they do, we’ll have to see what our next move will be.”


That could include calling in extra help from contractors who are at the ready across the state.


“Our roads are in fairly good shape right now,” Reynolds said. “The interstate is beginning to freeze up. It always does before the other roads because it’s more porous.”


But, he assured, crews were ready and would be out doing everything they possibly could to make the roads safe for any necessary travel.


Necessary, though is the key word, according to N.C. Highway Patrol officials who continued to urge people to stay home and off roadways unless absolutely necessary.


“It’s my hope that everyone settles in at home for the next couple of days, until it’s safe to drive,” said Highway Patrol Sgt. M.G. McLamb. “If you have to be out, give yourself plenty of time, allow plenty of distance between vehicles and get home as soon as possible.”


If roads become covered with ice, the sergeant stressed, then conditions become hazardous even for emergency vehicles, a sure sign for others to stay off of them.


Although final decisions about school closings had not been made by The Sampson Independent’s early deadlines Wednesday, school officials weren’t all that hopeful that students would return to classrooms on Thursday, including those at Sampson Community College. Watch our website at www.clintonnc.com for all the latest closures.


County government offices remained closed Wednesday, with the expectation of only weather-essential personnel working again Thursday, and city offices closed early Wednesday with a two-hour delay already slated for Thursday morning.


“We will assess the situation in the morning and determine what we will do at that time,” said assistant county manager Susan Holder Wednesday morning.


Those remarks were echoed by city manager Shawn Purvis who said they, too, would assess the road and safety situation Thursday morning to determine who would come in, if anyone.


“Our area is potentially expected to get between a tenth and a quarter inch of ice overnight,” Purvis said Wednesday. “We are delayed Thursday for two hours; we will evaluated, but hopefully it will be just rain by that time and everyone can get in safely.”


Public works crews out picking up garbage Wednesday morning were called off the roads before 11 a.m. and those monitoring the roads were preparing to clear roadways of snow in preparation for whatever might fall after dark and into Thursday morning.


“We will put the plows on the roads unless it becomes pure ice. At that point it wouldn’t do any good. Tomorrow (Thursday) we will assess again and see what needs to be done and we will get it done,” Purvis said.


Tuesday’s winter weather brought over 5 inches of snow to parts of Sampson County, with 3 inches reported in the Roseboro and Salemburg areas, 4 inches in Bonnettsville and 5 inches in Clinton. In southern Sampson Wednesday, snow was falling hard again, with over another inch reported by 11 a.m.


 
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