County roads closed, emergency crews on standby

Published 5:11 pm Sunday, January 9, 2011

Prepare for the worst; hope for the best.

That’s the mindset that officials from schools to governments are taking as forecasters warn of a potentially devastating ice storm headed for Pike County.

During a 3 p.m. briefing on Sunday, Pike County EMA Director Jeanna Barnes said that meteorologists have increased the forecasted ice accumulation potential for areas south of Montgomery, including Troy.

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“But it doesn’t really matter if it’s a quarter of an inch or two inches,” Barnes said. “The damage will be the same once it reaches a quarter inch.”

With much of Alabama, including Pike County, under a winter storm warning, Gov. Bob Riley on Sunday declared a state of emergency. Pike County Commissioners planned to follow suit, declaring a state of emergency in Pike County, as well.

“As a precaution, we’re closing all county roads as of 6 p.m. today,” Commission Chairman Homer Wright said. “And I think we’re going to go ahead and close the courthouse on Monday.”

Sgt. Benny Scarbrough of the Troy Police Department echoed Wright’s concerns about the roadways.

“We’re telling folks to stay off the roadways, especially after the precipitation begins,” Scarbrough said. “Unless you absolutely have to be somewhere, the best thing to do is stay off the roads tonight.”

Scarbrough added that should power outages occur, intersections will become even more dangerous Sunday night and into the day on Monday. “We may not have officers at all the intersections directing traffic so, again, the best thing is for people to stay off the roads.”

Representatives at the briefing included school officials – classes at all campuses in Pike County are cancelled for Monday; fire and police officials; utility company representatives; government representatives; county road department officials; and others who will be working throughout the next 24 hours to manage what forecasters have warned will be an impactful weather event.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said the public works and utility crews would be on call beginning Sunday evening to respond to weather related issues, from utility outages to downed tree limbs to ice bridges and roadways in city limits. “Our trucks are gassed up and ready to go,” he said. “We will have folks working all night.”

City hall will be open for business on Monday, “most of us will be responding to this,” Lunsford said.

Chellie Phillips said South Alabama Electric Cooperative will open its office at 10 a.m. Monday, with an emphasis on responding to weather-related issues. “We will not be doing any cutoffs on Monday, so people don’t have to worry about coming in and trying to pay their bills” if the roads are dangerous, she said.

However, phones will be manned “24-7” and customers should call 800-566-2060 to report outages.

And, with residents planning to use portable generators as back-up should power outages occur, emergency officials warned that they take caution. Generators should always be housed outside a residence or business, never inside.

The Alabama Department of Transportation has activated its Emergency Call Center operators to provide road closure and travel-related information. The number of the Emergency Call Center is 888-588-2848. Additional information can be found at ALDOT’s website,

Of course, the impending ice storm also weighs heavily on the minds of thousands of area Auburn fans, who are planning to watch the BCS championship game on television Monday night. Conley Freeman of Troy Cable said the cable provider is “on high alert.”

“Along with generators and backup power systems at our offices, we have many backup battery systems throughout the city inc ase of power loss.”

However, he said, “ if the home doesn’t have power, the TVs are not going to work.”

The cable company works closely with City of Troy utilities to remove trees and limbs from common distribution systems, and Freeman said he expects that partnership to be a priority during this weather incident. “I assure you, whatever is required to get the job done, Troy Cable is wiling to do it.”

Other closings planned for Monday include:

• The Troy Recreation Center and Sportsplex, including the walking trail. “We don’t want anybody out there on Monday,” Director Dan Smith said.