Snow arrives, ice is forecast

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 07:06 PM

Flakes began falling in Henderson around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, a gentle beginning to what is forecasted to be a heavy winter storm.

The Vance County Emergency Services director said the storm was expected to bring around 6 inches of snow and one-quarter to one-half inch of ice to the region. A local state of emergency was declared at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The 911 call center was overstaffed as of Wednesday, and the emergency operations center was to be activated at 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

The state Department of Transportation pre-brined the roads and had crews ready to plow once the storm hit.
Brian Short said the department pre-deployed equipment to a single, centralized shelter at Eaton-Johnson Middle School because it is the only local school to have been prewired to run off a generator.

The shelter will only open if there are long-term, widespread power outages.

“We will not open the shelter prior to the storm,” he said. “What will determine whether we open the shelter or not is if we begin to receive widespread power outages, and the restoration times we receive from the power company appear to be extended."

The preferred policy of the county is to have people seek shelter in their homes.

People should also avoid driving if at all possible and to use vehicles that can handle ice and snow if they must be out. Short said often people try to drive during a winter storm and end up having an accident that blocks roads for emergency vehicles.

“We are encouraging people, obviously, once this storm starts to stay off the roads and in their homes unless they absolutely have to be out in it,” he said. “If they have a job that requires them to be out in it, we ask that they leave themselves extra driving time to get from point A to point B and to be especially alert for pedestrian traffic.”

If people lose power, Short said they should not call 911. Instead, they should call their local utility provider. If that’s Duke Energy, call toll free (800) 419-6256.

Duke Energy spokesman Scott Andresen said the power company was ready to face the storm.

“We are prepared though for possibility of having outages,” he said. “These storms aren’t predictable. We do have a robust staffing resource at this time.”

Duke has some 3,400 field workers spread across the Carolinas ready to deploy during the storm. About 500 more are on standby from Florida and the Midwest, and they will be sent out to help deal with the hardest-hit areas, Andresen said.

Should residents come across downed or sagging power lines, the Duke spokesman said to treat them as electrified and call to notify the utility toll free at (800) 419-6256.

“Safety is the number one priority for the public and our employees,” he said.

Contact the writer at vshortley@hendersondispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @herding_stets.