EMA Director says Red travel advisories are a serious matterFree Access

County working hard to keep roads safe, plowed


 

Amy Graham-McCarty/News & Review
A White County Highway Department plow clears roads in the Saddlebrook subdivision on Thursday, Feb. 3. Today’s winter storm is expected to hit between 1 and 5 p.m., causing blowing and drifting snow and making roadways hazardous.

Today’s weather is expected to get worse before it gets better.

Chris Springer, director of White County EMA, said the greatest impact for today’s winter storm should hit White County between 1-5 p.m.

Warming stations

Warming stations throughout the county remain open, Springer said.

“If they are not staffed, there is someone on standby or relativity close,” he said. “If we need to get someone there, we can.”

Warming stations are located at the White County United Way Building, 402 Tioga Road; Buffalo Fire Station, 206 IN39, Buffalo; Idaville Fire Station, 1010 U.S. 24, Idaville; and Reynolds Old School House, 401 W. 2nd St., Reynolds.

Springer said he anticipates the warming stations to remain open at least through today, Feb. 3.

“We are going to see what it looks like this afternoon,” he said. “We still have access to them if we need to call someone in throughout the night.”

As of today, no one has needed to use the warming stations he said.

“No one has showed up to those locations, which is typical for these situations,” he said. “If someone is without power, or has an issue, they would find a friend or relative to stay with usually.”

He credited local power companies for quickly restoring power to residents.

“They were working very diligently to get power up,” he said. “They were coordinating with the highway department an INDOT to get to those locations.

“It was not an easy task for them last night.”

Travel advisory Orange

White County remains in under an Orange travel advisory as of 1:30 p.m. Community members have expressed their concern on social media regarding the advisory not changing to Red, a warning advisory. Springer said his department is monitoring the roads.

“The process for a travel warning, because it is so severe, takes a disaster declaration in order to have it declared,” he said. “The County Commissioners have to declare that and sign it. “Roads have to be impassable. It shuts everything down. It is a situation where response can’t get to you anymore. It’s a sheltering in place situation.

“It’s more about that we can’t get services to you.”

Springer said plows have been out working hard to get the roads plowed and cleaned out to avoid people getting their vehicles stuck.

“One reasons we go (Red) less than other counties is because of how robust our highway department is in White County,” he said. “I will also go out and inspect (the roads) and have eyes on the road. That way we are getting an up-to-date real time assessment of what our roads are looking like.

“I will make a determination on whether an advisory or watch is needed and give a recommendation to the Commissioners on what I am seeing. I also communicate with the Highway Department Superintendent and the County Sheriff.”

Making the decision to move the county to a Red travel advisory is not easy, Springer said.

“It’s not as simple as just going into Red just because the roads are difficult to travel,” he said. “If we can maintain our infrastructure, we are going to do that.

“The final call goes to the County Commissioners.”

Addressing the question coming from the community on why White County is not moving to a Red travel advisory, Springer says what he has seen based on his assessment of the roads does not warrant it.

“An Orange (travel advisory) is still very severe,” he said. “It is only emergency travel and needed travel. We highly advise to stay home, if possible, to prevent any issues, and relieve the burden on our emergency responders.

“The intent is that if you need to go to work, yes you can go. If businesses have and emergency plan for limited staff or closures, they should be implementing those.”

Springer said he understands the frustration from the community.

“There are a lot of other factors that come into play,” he said. “We are driving in these situations physically and try to make the best decision for the community and county. At the end the day that decision (to move to a Red travel advisory) will go to the Commissioners.

“It’s refreshing to see that people do care and voice their opinions on what is going on. We are doing the best we can.”

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