Icy roads impede travel

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Icy roads and power outages continued to cause problems across Lawrence County Monday night and Tuesday morning.

At 7:30 a.m., the county was downgraded from a Level 3 road warning, which allows emergency travel only, to a Level 2 warning, necessary travel only.

"Everything is still a mess," said Sgt. J.P. Kisor of the Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "Power is out all over the county, trees are down, there is black ice on the roads. It is bad."

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Travelers should pay attention to the road warnings and only be out if absolutely necessary, Kisor said.

The Highway Patrol reported several abandoned accident scenes from overnight that did not appear serious and

were investigating a rollover in a creek along State Route 243 at 8:10 a.m.

Cecil Townsend, county manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation's Lawrence County garage, said ODOT had seven crews out Monday evening salting to help clear the black ice and still has a crew doing clean up.

State routes 650 and 522 are now open. However, all of State Route 373 and State Route 93 from the 13 mile marker to the county line is still closed, he said.

"People just need to use extreme caution driving on any of these county roads," he said.

ODOT crews cleared a slip at the 17 mile marker on State Route 7 around midnight Monday with the help of volunteer firefighters and emergency response crews, Townsend said.

"I would like to praise the emergency response system in Lawrence County," he said. "Emergency responders and volunteer firefighters have been out there cutting trees and helping with traffic control. They have been a big help to us When we need them they are there."

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has sent crews to assist with clearing fallen trees, Townsend said.

In addition to the icy roads, a bigger problem may be that power remains out for many residents.

American Electric Power reported that more than 5,000 customers in Lawrence County were still without power Tuesday.

Terri Flora, general manager of communications for AEP, said they do not have an exact estimate on when service would be restored but hope that many customers will start seeing there services come back on today.

AEP has more than 300 employees working in southern Ohio, approximately 45 line mechanics and tree removal workers in Ironton alone, Flora said.

Buckeye Rural Electric, the county's other electrical utility provider,

also continues to battle outages, fallen trees and damaged poles and lines in what looks like a "war zone," Ron Davis, chief operating officer for Buckeye Rural said.

"We have got devastation in parts of Ironton," Davis said. "With ice hanging around, trees continue to fall as quick as we clear them."

Davis said they hope to have service restored to 3,500 customers without service by Friday but it will depend on the weather. Customers should try to conserve electricity after service resumes to prevent any further problems.

For the second day in a row, education in the county was brought to a standstill. All primary and secondary schools are closed. Ohio University Southern is on a two hour delay. Collins Career Center is closed.

The Western West Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross operated a shelter at Ironton High School overnight. Five people took advantage of the shelter that was moved to the South Point Community Center.