12/28/10 — Snow daze

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Snow daze

By From staff reports
Published in News on December 28, 2010 1:46 PM

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Victoria Pearce, 4, makes a snow angel in her lawn in Fremont on Monday. Northern Wayne County received the heaviest snowfall from Sunday's storm, which turned fields and yards into winter playgrounds.

Wayne County residents continued to dig out from beneath the winter's heaviest snowfall today, as sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures began to melt the nearly foot-deep layer of white stuff that fell over the weekend.

Temperatures were expected to continue to climb through the week, with rain forecast for Saturday.

Despite the storm, it was "business as usual" for the county's 911 center and emergency medical services.

Wayne County officials implemented the county's emergency winter weather plan and called in additional staff for it 911 center and emergency medical services.

"I talked to the 911 center during the event and they said it was just a normal day,' said Mel Powers, county emergency management and security coordinator. "We had a few more (vehicles) in a ditch calls, but it was business as usual.

"I think it happened at a good time. The county offices were closed, schools are out and things were closed for Christmas. I got out and drove the secondary road and they seemed in good shape."

There were some icy spots, but nothing impassable, Powers said.

Other than the threat of black ice in some spots most of the county's roads have been cleared, said Luther Thompson, state Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor.

There remains some work to be done on roads in the northern part of the county that received the highest amount of snowfall, Thompson said.

"Today we will check any trouble spots from yesterday," he said. "We should finish going into subdivisions and on the roads near the Wilson County line.

"The primary roads are looking good. The snow has been pushed back and they have dried out. The secondary roads are looking better, too."

However, Thompson warned motorists of the danger of black ice forming on some roads -- particularly on hilly and shaded roadways.

The Goldsboro Police Department reported a single weather-related accident from Saturday night through Monday night.

"I am sure that there were a number of calls from stranded motorists and cars getting stuck, but if there is no property damage then no report is filed," said Maj. Mike West.

Neil Bartlett, the city's public works director, said that as of about 8:30 this morning, the majority of the city's roads were "largely passable," despite some refreezing that occurred overnight. He was optimistic that by the end of the day road conditions within the city will be even better.

Overall, he said, the city's road crews spent about a day and a half working to remove snow and ice. Bartlett added that they would be out again today to finish cleaning up any problem spots once the hard ice begins to turn slushy.

"Once the sun hits that asphalt I think you're going to see most of what's left melting away pretty quickly," Bartlett said. "I don't foresee any problems."

Local gas companies' phones were ringing off the hook before and after the storm with customers wanting to be sure their tank was well stocked to heat their homes and businesses.

"We are still just as busy today as we can be trying to get our trucks everywhere we need to be. We're just loaded down with people calling," said Joe Caveness, owner of Mount Olive Gas Co., on Monday. "We waited a little bit to put trucks on the road for some melting to start so they weren't out driving on the ice," he said.

Heating repair services were also getting their share of calls for malfunctioning units.

"We're just seeing of course a lot of systems icing up due to the weather conditions," Ron Carter, service manager with Jackson and Sons Heating and Air Conditioning, said Monday.

"A lot of times the homeowner can take a broom and sweep all the snow away from the system to allow the unit to breathe again," Carter said, adding it would be a wise measure for every homeowner to do so to prevent potential freezing up of the units.

"We're also seeing a lot of folks that haven't done routine service on their system and the unit isn't able to withstand the extreme conditions we're having," he said.

On Monday in Pikeville, people were getting cabin fever after watching the snow fall all day Sunday, and spent the morning shoveling out their driveways and clearing sidewalks before hearing out to eat or do some after-Christmas shopping.

But there were some who said they took time to go sledding and build snowmen and just enjoy the snowfall, which officially measured 11 inches according the National Weather Service, although some residents said they had drifts of anywhere from 12 to 16 inches.

On Monday afternoon, Jose and Daisy Martinez, accompanied by sons Brandon, 14, and Joshua, 10, trod through the slushy parking lot of Walmart on Spence Avenue, carrying household supplies they had just bought. The largest item was the kerosene heater Jose Martinez clutched with both hands.

"Just in case the lights go out, we want to be prepared," Jose Martinez said. "You never know."

The Martinezes' home in Dudley uses electric heat, and the electricity had gone out temporarily on Sunday. Jose Martinez said the family already had one kerosene heater, but decided to get a second one as a precaution.

Inside Walmart, most of the shopping carts contained groceries and many contained warm clothing or pet supplies.

Rob McGhee, assistant manager, said the store's biggest problem was that many employees were unable to get to work. Other than that, he said, there were no major problems. It was a busy day, but the staff already anticipated that the day after Christmas would be a busy one, even before the snow.

"Most of the people were in here shopping like it was a normal day," McGhee said.

Many customers were buying basic household essentials, but McGhee said sales of jewelry and electronics also had been brisk. "Later in the evening it was a lot of food," he said.

Food was among the basics that lured Steve and Lisa Balli and their family out to the store Monday afternoon.

"We were out of milk and juice and necessities," Lisa Balli said as they waited in the checkout line. "I didn't really anticipate the snow to be this bad. Otherwise, I would've gone out Christmas Eve."

The Ballis live in the Woodcroft area, and "just getting out of our neighborhood was the tough part," Steve Balli said.

Despite the icy roads, delivery drivers for Wayne Pharmacy didn't miss a beat over the weekend as they made sure people received the prescriptions and medical equipment they needed.

"We were able to make our deliveries for people who needed them," he said.

He explained that when the weather turns bad and the road conditions deteriorate, they make a point of only delivering the most critical items to customers.

For example, he said, they made a delivery Sunday down in Beulaville because a customer's oxygen machine had quit.

He also said the pharmacy makes sure to use only certain drivers and vehicles when conditions deteriorate, and that for the last 15 years all of their drivers have attended a driving class to teach them how to handle icy roads.

Paige Norris and Maggey Taylor, both 15 and neighbors on Cambridge Drive, knelt in the snow as they put the finishing touches on the foundation of a snowman Monday afternoon.

"Sunday, me and my boyfriend built snowmen in my yard," Paige said, gesturing to her home across the street.

Her friend and classmate convinced her to create another one in the Taylor yard.

"I wanted to build a massive snowman," Maggey said.

"I'm going to assist in building a massive snowman," Paige said.

The plan was to make a triple-decker version, a project they estimated would take another hour to complete.

That is, if their help came. Maggey's brother, Taylor, 12, and Ryan Rohrbach, Paige's boyfriend, had moved to the back yard.

"I told them to build a second layer," Maggey said.

"They're probably doing a mixture of snowball fighting," Paige said.

The girls strategized on the finishing touches they would add once the snowman was done.

Maggey said she planned to add a Santa hat and a red scarf, while some red and green-wrapped Christmas candy she'd gotten would also be a nice touch.

Despite the frigid temperatures, they said the cold didn't really bother them.

"My knees are numb," admitted Maggey.

"You just start to get immune to it," added Paige.