Holiday on Ice

A tree bends at the corner of Lincoln Street and Grand Avenue bows low under the weightby Patty Decker & Don Ratzlaff

The Free Press

Weather forecasters who had predicted an icing event during the Thanksgiving weekend did not disappoint.

Freezing rain began falling Friday, covering everything outdoors with a slowly growing layer of ice, including trees and electrical power lines.

The icing increased into Saturday, resulting in significant tree damage and sometimes bringing down power lines with them as branches broke under the weight.

The temperature inched above freezing Monday morning, signaling the end of the siege in Marion County?even though residents of the Tampa-Lincoln?ville area to the north, as well Peabody to the south, were still without electricity.

Most churches in the area canceled Sunday activities. Area schools had recessed for the Thanks?giving break; all but Marion schools cancelled classes for Monday as well.

County-wide

Robert Craft, Marion County sheriff, said when the temperatures started falling the county roads turned icy and slick.

?We had 11 non-injury and two injury accidents, but no fatalities,? he said.

Craft said some residents north of Lincolnville and in the Antelope area had power back by Monday afternoon.

?Some power is coming back on slowing in Dur?ham, and south of Florence only recently did the electricity come back,? he said.netting at the Memorial Field batting cages show the extent of the icing

Many emergency personnel were glued to the telephone ever since Thanks?giving,? Craft said.

?The traffic was light which helps a lot. I think people really did heed what the warnings were and stayed home if they could.?

The storm was trickier than normal, he added, because rain was called for in the forecast with the chance of freezing rain falling later.

?Crews didn?t want to put stuff down while it was still raining or it would have been washed away,? he said.

The biggest challenge in Marion County, Craft said, was that while the highways were in fairly good shape, the county roads were icy.

?The weather was kind to us, though,? he added. ?It warmed up enough to keep the county roads somewhat thawed, but in the early morning they could be very slick.?

Craft said no roadways were blocked by tree limbs, but the limbs did cause power-line outages.

?The longest period of time an area was without power was about 30 hours,? he said.

Craft said he is grateful to all law enforcement officials, fire personnel, emergency medical, electricians, electric companies, emergency management and city crews for all they did.

?Many of them missed out on Thanksgiving dinner, but everybody worked together to minimize any major catastrophe here,? he said.

Hillsboro

Hillsboro got off relatively easily, City Admini?strator Larry Paine said Monday. Several single residences reported power outages due to the ice tree debris, but he said he was unaware of any widespread outages in town. Ice encased even the smallest pedals of bushes;

?A number of trees took down lines?mostly secondary lines as I understand it, from the transformer to the house,? Paine said, ?I think there were a couple of places where main distribution lines were damaged.?

On Saturday, the city sent out one or two trucks during the afternoon to sprinkle sand on ice-covered streets.

?When it started to rain again Saturday afternoon, it iced up pretty good,? Paine said.

But city crews took on the majority of their work Sunday morning, mostly doing electrical repairs.

Paine said the city had a recorded the message that residents should call the electrical department directly if an outage occurred. Many simply left a phone message at city hall, which were not heard until office workers returned Monday morning.

?I know that we had a fairly lengthy list of people who had called in,? he said.

Paine said the only other storm-related damage he knew about was a waterline break along C Street, between Adams and Wilson streets. City crew were working to repair the leak Mon?day. this tree along South Washington lost more foliage than it kept;

?It?s always related to the freezing weather,? Paine said of the break. ?The ground will shift and all of a sudden a line will break. That?s not unusual.?

The city has announced a plan to help residents remove their tree branches and limbs. A crew will circulate around town Monday, Dec. 7, giving people a week to prepare their tree debris for removal.

?If you are able-bodied and have access to a trailer or a truck, please clean up the debris on your own,? he added. ?The city burn site is open 24-7, so it?s easy for somebody to get in and get out of there.

?People who can?t do it, we?re asking them to move their debris to the front of the property,? Paine said.

The city will not pick up debris that is situated along an alley, he added. late-season garden tomatoes have seen better days;

?It?s hard to get the equipment in and out,? Paine said. ?We?ll come in with a grabber on the sewer department backhoe. They need the access of the street to be able to turn and get the branches into the dump truck.?

Marion

City Administrator Roger Holter said Marion lost power for about three hours Saturday into early Sunday morning.

Westar Energy turned off the city?s power to restore power south of Marion, he said.

?The problem that occurred here is that ice built up on one of the transformers on East Hill,? he said. ?It was not a substation, but a big transformer?icing over the insulators.?

When the power was turned back on, it blew the transformer and some Marion residents were without power until about 2:30 a.m.

Marion Chief of Police Tyler Mermis and other officers stayed up until power was restored to make sure everything was safe.

?We had branches down, but none blocked roadways,? Mermis said. ?Dump trucks were out (Monday) picking up the majority of downed limbs.?

Holter said Marion County Lake residents were without power during the same time as the city of Marion?9:30 p.m. until about 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

?Sunday, the lights dimmed a couple of times at the county lake, but they didn?t go out,? he said.

?We are so thankful we had no accidents from this recent storm,? Holter added.

Peabody

Peabody City Clerk Steph?anie Lago said almost 70 customers in the Peabody area were affected by the outage.

?Power was down for a couple of hours in the whole town on Sunday, and some areas, where there are a lot of trees and downed lines were out since 8 a.m. (Sun?day),? she said.a couple of huge limbs broke off a tree along South Washington.

Lago said the size of the outage was limited.

?The city park on the southwest side was bad because of the trees,? she said. ?We had a downed pole on the southwest side of town and another downed pole by the school, which is on the north.?

Lago said Facebook posts were one of the ways a lot of people were receiving information even after the power went down because they could use smaller units to include phones and tablets.

Lago said city crews haven?t started picking up downed limbs and branches.

?We couldn?t get them down to the burn pit right now because it is still bad out and most people haven?t had a chance to begin cleaning yet,? she said.

Lago said she heard from Police Chief Bruce Burke, who said other than a few slide-offs into ditches, no accidents happened.

As of Monday, some people were still without power in the Peabody area.

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