Washington County Sheriff Claude Combs met with Washington County Commissioners, highway foreman and determined that the State of Emergency for road conditions will remain in effect through today and until at least 9a on Thursday, Feb. 6.
“We’ll meet again then and re-evaluate how things are,” said Combs. “We’ve got 60 percent of the county roads cleared but there is ice forming on the roads now as the temperatures drop. We’re supposed to be in the Teens tonight and it’s not going to be warming up anytime soon.”
The State of Emergency was finally determined last night just before midnight and continues through today.
Combs said although people will be out on the road, driving is harzardous and motorists should be cautious.
“As far as what we’re doing now. We want emergency traffic only on the road. We’re not penalizing people who are on the road trying to get food, etc. But a State of Emergency does pertain to emergency vehicles only – ambulance, highway and street workers, police…those people whose job it is to take care of the welfare of the people,” said Combs. “We’re dealing with vehicles off the road and medical emergencies, too. We take care of those folks who need dialysis or those who need to get to a hospital for a surgery or who have run out of medicine. We’ll make sure they get transported. Call 911 and we’ll take care of that.”
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will dip into the teens and will be about 7 degrees by daybreak on Thursday.
“We’re prepared to open shelters in case we lose power and if people need heat,” Combs said. “The City [of Salem] and County have coordinated that and we’re prepared to move to that level in case we need to. All of that has been taken care of.”
Commissioner Phil Marshall talked about how hard county employees are working to clear the roads and the amount of roads in Washington County. “It’s a big area for 26 trucks to try and cover,” he said. “They will continue throughout the day into the evening, then come in and warm up and rest. We’ll start all over in the morning.”
Combs commented on the many hours city and county employees are putting in during these weather events. “We all knew that when we took the job,” he said. “Safety of the people of our county is first and foremost on our minds. We thought we might not need to go there, but the weather didn’t change. Here’s where we’re at and where we’ll stay until at least 9a Thursday.”
Stay tuned to WSLM for weather conditions and any official reports from the City of Salem and Washington County.