Rowan preparing for winter storm, school already called off for Tuesday

Rowan preparing for winter storm, school already called off for Tuesday

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Rowan County Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason huddled via a conference call with county leaders to discuss the winter storm and the county's preparedness.

"Unfortunately everyone, our main problem is going to be the ice secretion that will start around 7pm as the snow transitions to a brief period of sleet and then to al freezing rain around 9 pm," Thomason said. "The freezing rain will continue throughout the night until about 5am with a total possible ice accumulation of .36 inches, that's a little over one third of an inch of ice."

Thomason added that Rowan could be in danger if the higher projection of ice accumulation is reached.

"The benchmark on the ice is at a quarter inch or greater so if the forecast holds true for the majority Rowan County having over a third of an inch of ice it is very likely we're going to have some damage due to falling trees an utility lines," Thomason added.

The conference call included heads of local agencies such as the American Red Cross, Duke Energy, law enforcement and fire service heads, Rowan-Salisbury Schools, and several others. Below are some of the comments that were shared:

"We have enough trained bodies that can work in a shelter and operate a shelter. We have called our shelter manager and sent her an alert," said Monica Bruns of the American Red Cross. "We've gassed up our vehicles, we've done an inventory of our shelter supplies, we are in the process of getting together, making preparations for meals in the event that we do open a shelter and have to feed. In addition to sheltering we're preparing ourselves for other responses in the community."

"We've pulled out all the sports utilities and four wheel drive vehicles that we can and try to respond to our calls," said Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten. "We definitely need to look at these shelters being available if you look at what the temperatures are expected to be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, we're going to have quite a few people that could be in danger with those temperatures in single digits a couple nights."

"We're canceling all after school activities today. We have 3000 employees who all have children in daycare all over, I'd like to try to get them home today, out of the way, out of harm's way," said Dr. Lynn Moody, superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools. "I think what we're going to do is go on and make call that we're not going to go to school tomorrow. We're going to call it, we're just going to go ahead and call off school tomorrow."

"We just ask that the general public call for actual medical needs, as always we will probably suspend any routine transfers from medical facilities back to other medical facilities," said Bill Hamrick of Rowan County EMS.

"I have spoken to every fire chief in Rowan County this morning and they are prepared to respond to any power lines down, trees down, they're actually putting on extra personnel to stay through the night to address any concerns that come in," added Deborah Koontz Horne of the Rowan Fire Marshal's Office.

"We're fully staffed and we're operating appropriately, we can staff up as we need to," said Chief Bob Parnell of the Salisbury Fire Department.

"We're making preparations for this event," said Randy Welch of Duke Power. "We're reaching out to our partners and making preparations here locally. I have sent a note to encourage people to take a look at our web site, there's information out there about power restoration and how it works, also the 1-800-POWERON is there and the Spanish speaking number is there."

Emergency officials are planning another conference call on Tuesday morning at 11:00 to again assess the situation.