Southern Ohio Battered by Ice and Snow

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County sheriffs’ departments and emergency management agencies have been overwhelmed by the snow and ice storm that swept through the southern third of Ohio. Vinton County Sheriff Dave Hickey called the roadways there “treacherous.” But the biggest problem, Hickey says, has been the number of power outages.

“Probably three-fourths of the county is out of electric,” Hickey says. “We’re having a lot of calls for service; getting assistance for heat, getting family members to shelters, things of that nature.”

But according to Vinton County EMA director Tom Coelho, there are no shelters because most facilities in the county are without electricity or back-up generators. Coelho is advising residents to ‘shelter in place.’

In neighboring Ross County, EMA director David Bethel says that between 4,000 and 5,000 customers are without power.

“The roads are snow and ice covered, traffic is moving real slow and careful, we’re having a lot of power lines coming down. That’s causing a lot of folks not to have electric, and I think there are interruptions of cable and phone service,” Bethel says.

Even though most of the storm has left the state, an American Electric Power official says more and more people in Southern Ohio continue to lose their electric service. AEP spokeswoman Teri Flora:

“So far our numbers have been climbing instead of declining as we would have anticipated,” Flora says. “But because of the weather conditions down in southern Ohio more outages are being reported throughout the day. As limbs get heavier and heavier and the lines add weight, we knew that more outages would occur.”

Flora says a majority of the 122,000 customers without electricity are in the Athens, Chillicothe and Newark areas. She says it could be several days before all customers are back on-line.

“With an outage of this extent and with the damage that we’re seeing we know this will go well into the weekend until we have everyone restored,” Flora says.

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