Travel still difficult as roads start to clear

Published 9:59 am Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lawrence County has been downgraded to a Level 1 snow emergency as of late Wednesday evening as the Tri-State begins to dig out of one of the worst winter storms to hit in recent history.

And as the snow diminishes but the cold continues, up to 2,000 American Electric Power customers remain without electricity. The majority of those are along the Ohio River, on State Route 93, State Route 141 and at Scottown.

AEP expects to have all power restored by midnight Friday.

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The ice that hit on Tuesday night brought down power lines or trees that have fallen on the lines.

Fallen trees were a particular problem for the crews at Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative. Spokesperson Debra Sword said a crew working on a single line had to remove 30 trees before power could be restored.

“They would work on the line and then another tree would fall,” Sword said.

The cooperative brought the crews back in during the night to get rest, but all are out as of this morning, including outside contractors.

“We are hitting it hard,” she said.

As of 8 this morning 2,000 Buckeye Rural customers in the county were without electricity. Overall there are 9,000 without power in the nine southeastern counties in Ohio the cooperative serves.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said the county is right now running the spectrum of weather woes. Water from Tuesday morning’s heavy rains is standing in the road on Lawrence Street Road and Hog Run Road. Other roads are slick from the snowfall and ice.

“We went out State Route 141 and it was all we could do to keep the car on the road,” he said. “We will re-evaluate it at 6 p.m. If the roads dry out we may be okay. These snow alerts are meant as a precaution, to alert people to be careful.”

Snow alerts are based on weather conditions, weather forecasts, the number of accidents reported and road conditions reported by law enforcement and the state and county road garages, Lawless said.

Ohio law allows sheriffs to issue weather emergencies due to inclement weather. Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless is advising area residents to stay tuned to news media in case an emergency is issued, impacting travel.

A level 1 snow emergency means roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive carefully.

The sheriff’s office handled several minor accidents early in the day Wednesday. Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers reported minor accidents as well.