Storm cleanup continues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 20, 2003

Four days after a winter storm ripped through Lawrence County, the cleanup continues.

Lawrence County is now on a Level 1 emergency, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office. This means that roads are hazardous and icy and motorists should drive with caution. Most of the hazardous roads are county and township roads.

State Route 93 is still closed from the 13-mile marker above Ironton up to Oak Hill in Jackson County, Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 9, said. The situation along State Route 93 is the probably the most serious situation. Approximately 20 miles are impassible.

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In Jackson County, some residents have been ignoring barricades and officials there have been putting up gates to block motorists attempting to drive on the road. Officials in Lawrence County may do the same, with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol citing or giving fines to those driving on the road.

"It's simply impassible," she said.

Cecil Townsend, county manager for ODOT, said officials will be sympathetic to people who "have not been to the store in two weeks" and other local travelers. However, they will not be sympathetic to people driving around the barricade on the 13-mile marker to go sightseeing.

"What part of 'Road Closed' do people not understand?" he said.

Trees are being cut on the road and could cause delays for an hour or longer, Townsend said.

The cleanup on 93 will probably take two to three weeks, Fuller said, because the road is covered with broken utility lines and trees. Some of those trees are uprooted and branches are hanging above the roads. These could break at any time, she said.

Meanwhile, State Routes 522 and 650 have been reopened, but they still have icy patches, Fuller said. Four miles of State Route 373 is still closed because of downed trees and power lines.

The Ironton post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported one weather-related accident yesterday. Content Powell, 40, of Ashland, Ky. was driving eastbound by 4822 State Route 243 when her car went off the right side of the road, Dispatcher Mark Duncan said. Powell then struck a wood foot bridge, then overturned. Powell was not injured, Duncan said.

As of 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, 2,500 customers in the Ironton area and 250 from the Chesapeake area were still without power, Vikkie Michalski, a spokeswoman for AEP said.

Crews from AEP are still working to restore power and are making progress, Michalski said. However, accessing damaged areas is difficult because many are inaccessible because of down trees. Power to customers in the Ironton area is expected to be restored by late Thursday and customers in the Chesapeake area should have power restored by late today.

Michalski said she did not have a total number of down power lines, but said they were everywhere. There are also several broken poles and trees on lines.

Schools in the Chesapeake, Rock Hill and Symmes Valley districts were closed today as well as the Open Door School and Shawnee State University.

Temperatures will be warmer toward the end of the week, but this could cause more problems.

Dan Bartholf, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Charleston office, said a low-pressure system will bring more rain into the area this weekend, during which temperatures are forecasted to be in the upper 40s. There is not much snow pack, but this rain combined with high streams could cause flooding.

Temperatures will cool at the beginning of next week, and a chance of snow showers is forecasted for Sunday, Bartholf said. Saturday's rain could also change over to snow during the night. At the present time, the snow is expected to be light, with possibly one to two inches of snow.