Lancaster & Fairfield County Recover from Ice Storm

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As many as 6,000 Fairfield County residents remain without electricity after this week’s snow and ice storm. The Red Cross has opened a shelter. And the sheriff’s department and emergency management officials are checking on people who ask for assistance.

The sound of chain saws could be heard across Lancaster as people cleared downed branches and even whole trees. Mary Ann Brocksmith watched as her boss, Larry Snyder, cut thick limbs into firewood. Brocksmith said ice was the culprit that tore down power lines and made driving nearly impossible.

“We live down here and it’s been bad,” Brocksmith said. “I mean I drive a little economical car and I can’t even get out of my driveway. Fresh snow isn’t bad but when there’s ice on the road you can’t move. So I’m pretty much stuck.”

For those who could not drive, and whose homes were without power, the Fairfield County sheriff’s department was ready to help. Sheriff’s lieutenant Tim Voris:

“I have designated deputies with four wheel drive vehicles,” Voris says. “They have been picking up residents in their homes where their power has been out or they’ve needed some assistance and we’ve taken them to the open shelter.”

The shelter is at a church campground west of Lancaster. Red Cross volunteer Loretta Nixon says there’s been a steady stream of families going in and out as they lose power and then it’s restored.

“We’ve had people since yesterday coming in and they find out their powers on and then they would leave and then more would come in,” Nixon said. “It’s just been very transitional. Right now we’re expecting some overflow from Hocking County. It’s a shelter out of the storm.”

Counties to the south had declared Level 3 emergencies. Fairfield County remained at Level 2 with secondary roads still posing treacherous conditions. But according to county EMA director John Kochis the risk of staying in an unheated home for a second night was even greater.

“[We're] trying to urge as many people tonight to seek shelter,” Kochis said. We had a large power outage in September but we didn’t have the cold temperatures. It’s going to be single digits tonight and we really want to avoid people staying home in a frozen environment. It’s dangerous.”