Area thaws out, but many roads still icy

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Turney Adam Mason cleans the parking lot of ice at the Sentara Surgery Specialist on North Road Street, Monday.

Pritchard alternative picture.jpg

Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The impact from Winter Storm Helena should be easing today, although the area's icy secondary routes remained a point of concern Monday afternoon.

“Everybody is just trying to recover,” Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders said over the phone. “The roads are the main thing right now.”

Saunders said although N.C. Department of Transportation crews have cleared primary routes and were working hard to clear the secondary routes, the secondary routes remained icy and motorists would not see any improvement until the temperatures begin rising above the freezing mark.

Saunders said the problem on secondary routes is compounded by motorists who think, because the sun is out, they can drive with ease. “These roads are still really icy and people are sliding in the ditches,” she said.

Saunders said she does not know why, but she said Creek Road on Sunday particularly became a problem, to the point her agency even asked motorists to stay off that route.

Saunders provided a count showing Helena's impact locally on motorists.

On Saturday, Elizabeth City police responded to four automobile accidents, while Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies responded to eight auto accidents and assisted a motorist.

Also on Saturday, Camden County sheriff's deputies responded to two auto accidents and assisted three motorists. On Sunday, city police responded to two auto accidents, while Pasquotank deputies responded to seven auto accidents and assisted a motorist. On Monday, city police assisted three motorists, while Pasquotank deputies responded to six auto accidents and assisted three motorists. Also on Monday, Camden deputies responded to an auto accident and assisted a motorist.

In Currituck County, Emergency Management Director Mary Beth Newns said in an email Monday afternoon there were still icy spots, mostly from the Coinjock Bridge north. She said there were too many impacted routes to provide a specific count. Newns did express concern about routes still covered with ice because of the shade from overhanging tree branches. She advised drivers to remain alert and take their time going from one place to another. “Once the sun goes down, the areas that have melted will re-freeze, making for another tricky morning commute,” she said.

Meantime, school and municipal officials were relaying decisions about whether to be open Tuesday due to road conditions.

Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools will be closed Tuesday, as will Camden County Schools, Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies, Currituck County Schools and Perquimans County Schools.

For Camden County Schools staff and Currituck County Schools staff, Tuesday will be an optional workday with a three-hour delay.

Edenton-Chowan Schools also will be closed Tuesday, but Tuesday will be an optional workday for staff with a two-hour delay.

Elizabeth City State University spokesman Rob Kelly-Goss said ECSU would be opening Tuesday, but with a two-hour delay at 10 a.m.

Late Monday afternoon, College of The Albemarle officials announced that all campuses would be closed on Tuesday.

Elizabeth City City Manager Rich Olson and Edenton Town Manager Anne-Marie Knighton said their respective governments' offices will be open Tuesday.

Pasquotank County Manager Rodney Bunch said his government's office will open on a delayed basis at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Bunch said there may be some delay in opening of some recycling centers. “We have had a lot of success in clearing some of the sites but they are wet and may freeze over before drying,” he said in an email Monday afternoon. “If that is the case, there may be some sites open at seven and others with a delay.”

Camden County Manager Michael Brillhart and Perquimans County Manager Frank Heath said their respective governments' offices will open on a two-hour delay Tuesday. 

Perquimans waste convenience sites/recycling centers will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday and the Perquimans Health Department will operate on a two-hour delay Tuesday. The Hertford and Winfall town halls also will each operate on a two-hour delay Tuesday.

Newns said Currituck County government offices will be opening at 10 a.m. Tuesday. She said recycling centers should be opening as normal at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

As for the status of electric service, Dominion North Carolina Power on Monday afternoon on its website reported 74 customers without service in the Knotts Island area and four customers without service in the Winfall area.

Olson said he has not received any reports of outages among Elizabeth City municipal customers.

Perquimans County-based Albemarle Electric Membership spokesman Chris Powell said the rural cooperative did not have any outages of any significance Monday afternoon.

Powell said there were a few members without power due to damages to their properties. He said the cooperative's crews would have to wait for the appropriate repairs to be made before the crews can return service to them.

The wintry weather did provide extra work for Billy Pritchard, who is in the lawn care and landscaping business.

On Sunday and Monday, Pritchard was clearing the parking area of Carolina Surgical Care along North Road Street. He said Monday’s weather was a bit of an improvement compared to Sunday's cold and icy conditions.

“The temperatures are better, so the ice is breaking up a little bit,” he said, noting he was able to buy salt Monday to put down on the concrete and pavement. Assisting Pritchard was his wife, Gwen.

Pritchard said he and his wife on Sunday also responded to a call to the Brookdale assisted living facility, off Hastings Lane, because ambulance teams could not go in and out. So, he said, he and his wife went and gave the Brookdale team a hand.

He said he and his wife in past wintry situations helped clean up some local residents' driveways, but did not do so this time. “I think everybody kind of hunkered down and stayed in,” he said.