Bartow County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Cuprowski said road crews were continuing to plow and spread material Wednesday night in preparation for any inclement weather.
“We’re hoping if the temperature can maintain right where it’s at, I think we’ll be all right because the spreaders [are] out, running full force and plowing and spreading at the same time,” he said. “Right now, although it did deteriorate over the last couple of hours, we do not have any road closings. We are getting some reported slick spots on [U.S. Highway] 41, [but] that’s a state road. It’s definitely slippier than it was earlier, but we think if we can maintain these temperatures we might be OK.”
Although the NWS predicted a 20 percent chance of snow before 9 this morning, Cuprowski said Bartow County services were taking no chances.
“Well, we are taking worst-case scenario because it seems to be changing literally by the minute. Just doing visual inspections outside, it’s getting worse by the minute, but we’re hoping exactly that snowfall is not going to be as bad as we anticipated. But we’re still preparing for it and we’re keeping our [emergency operation center] open and active — the full operation — probably for the next at least 36 hours. We’ll see what happens tomorrow afternoon.”
Snow, however, would be preferable to ice, he added.
“That’s some of our biggest concern right there. I don’t think it’ll be as bad if it snows. We can handle that. The ice will be more of a challenge,” Cuprowski said.
Cuprowski asked for patience from Bartow County residents as road crews continued working to keep streets clear. He said staying off the roads would be the most beneficial way to improve the situation.
“That’s been the saving grace of this whole thing, I think. People really just sat back on this one and did what was asked of them. ... It speeds the whole process up right there,” he said.
On a larger scale, across the state, the Red Cross continued to work with emergency agencies and community partners to offer assistance during the storm.
According to a press release, planning began over the weekend to ensure that partner-operated warming centers and emergency shelters have access to needed items. Food and water, along with cots, blankets, pillows and personal hygiene kits are among the supplies the Red Cross made available to county governments, churches and emergency management agencies. Red Cross volunteers are also helping to staff some partner facilities in addition to Red Cross-run shelters.
The Red Cross also urged Georgia residents to stay indoors and avoid getting out on the roads.
“Those who must drive to seek shelter should make sure their vehicles are ready for conditions by having a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case they get stuck, extra clothes and a disaster supplies kit containing snacks, water, blankets and other necessities in the trunk,” the release states. “It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there.”
Locally, shelters available to Bartow County residents include the Houston Suggs Youth Facility, 31 Beavers Drive N.W., Cartersville, and a Red Top Mountain State Park facility at 50 Lodge Road S.E., Cartersville.
For those in the north end of the county, the Adairsville Police Department began using its station as a warming and relief shelter on Tuesday. The station opened at 9 p.m. for those in need, according to an APD press release. Citizens were advised to bring warm clothing and blankets with them. However, Chief Robert Jones asked residents only to use the shelter if they were without electricity, saying space was limited. APD also offered the use of a four-wheel-drive vehicle if motorists were stranded and in need of assistance.
According to the release, APD plans to operate the shelter through this evening, unless there is a power outage. Anyone unable to reach the shelter is asked to dial 911 for an officer’s assistance.
Georgia Power stated more than 143,000 customers were without power Wednesday evening, even though the company was able to restore service to 113,000 customers the same day.
A total of 250,000 customers were affected since early Wednesday morning, with most occurring since 6 a.m., according to the release.
New outages can be reported by calling 888-891-0983, or visiting www.georgiapower.com/storm. The status of an outage can be checked on the website as well.
In its own press release, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency urged motorists to stay off the road due to the threat of increasing icy conditions across the state.
“Ice can be deceptively dangerous, difficult to anticipate, and extremely difficult to drive on. Bridges and overpasses will ice first,” the release stated.
The NWS ice storm and winter weather warnings remain in effect for the upper half of the state. Forecasters are predicting what are described as “extremely hazardous” conditions, which will cause power outages and substantial structural damage due to falling trees and ice.
Residents outside of the storm warning area may also face the threat of icy road conditions. A state of emergency remains in effect for 91 counties.
GDOT will focus on keeping highways passable for emergency purposes only. The overall goal, according to the release, is to keep all roads passable, but the extent of that challenge is unknown as weather conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day. Motorists who need to travel for emergency purposes are advised to reduce their speed, avoid GDOT trucks on the road and closely follow travel information as the weather system brings changing conditions.
Motorists can monitor real-time road conditions at Georgia 511 www.511ga.org.