Sun returns, roads still hazardous

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Staff Photo by Thomas J. Turney Joseph Albert, 12, chips ice off the windshield of the family car on Harell Street, Sunday, January 8, 2017.


By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The sun may have returned Sunday and temperatures may be on the rise, but that doesn't mean area roads are back to safe driving conditions, cautions Christy Saunders. 

Saunders, Pasquotank-Camden emergency management coordinator, said Sunday afternoon that road conditions are still treacherous. Winter Storm Helena blew across North Carolina Friday and Saturday, leaving the Albemarle region covered in snow and ice and plummeting temperatures to as low as 16 degrees. 

“Area road conditions are not good, especially the secondary roads,” Saunders said, adding there have been several reports of cars in ditches.

One problem is that roads are covered in ice, which is covered by a layer of thawing water, making roads extra slippery, she said. 

She urged residents to avoid unnecessary driving and to not risk damaging their vehicle or injuring themselves. 

“I’d just prefer that people stay in,” she said, adding this is a good time to spend with family. 

Road crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation have been working diligently to lay sand on the roads and perform other safety measures, she said. For example, it appeared Sunday morning that a fresh layer of sand had been spread over Charles Creek Bridge on Riverside Avenue. 

Saunders said she was not aware of any outages in Pasquotank or Camden counties. That was at around 2:45 p.m. Sunday. She did say that utility crews worked through the night to make repairs.

“I think for the most part (crews) are pretty much caught up” with outages, she said.

There was a report of a downed power line in the Dances Bay subdivision in southern Pasquotank County, where residents spent several hours Saturday without power before it returned around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. A look at the Dominion Power outage map at outagemap.dom.com at 2:48 p.m. Sunday indicated four current outage incidents in Chowan, Perquimans and Gates counties. According to the map, a total of 18 customers at the time were without power. 

As for total accumulation of precipitation, Saunders estimated Helena brought anywhere between 1 and 3 inches, depending on the location.

“That’s going to depend on where you were in the county,” she said. 

Meanwhile, area school districts announced they would be closed Monday because of dangerous road conditions brought on the cold weather. The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Edenton-Chowan and Camden County districts, as well as the Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies are all closed for students and staff. The Perquimans County Schools are closed for students and staff but will be open as an optional workday for 12-month employees. The Currituck County Schools also will be closed for students but will be open as an optional workday for staff following a three-hour delay.

College of The Albemarle campuses are closed. Elizabeth City State University has suspended all non-mandatory work Monday. In addition, all campus events scheduled for Monday have been cancelled.

Other area closings of note include:

* Chowan County offices are closed;

* Currituck County government administrative offices are closed, but the county’s 911 communications and emergency services departments will remain fully-staffed.

* Albemarle Regional Health Services and the Inter-County Public Transportation Authority are also closed Monday.