Old man winter sent a massive four-day snow storm sweeping out of the west Saturday through Tuesday. The falling white stuff left the Lakeland in an ice box with temperatures in single digits and wind chills up to 10 degrees below zero.
Winter’s rage previewed what was coming last Wednesday with a tenth- to a quarter-inch of ice. And those icy conditions played havoc with highways, bridges and city streets making travel hazardous.
Road crews, state, county and city law enforcement were kept busy salting highways and responding to a plethora of wrecks prompted by the ice. Lyon Sheriff Brent White and his deputies worked more than a half dozen early-morning crashes, though no one was seriously injured.
On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency. “This declaration will free up funding and boost coordination across agencies as we respond to this weather crisis and work to keep all Kentuckians safe,” he said in a news release.
Winter conditions are predicted to continue through late this week, and local leaders are taking appropriate precautions. On Friday, Eddyville Mayor John Choat, who headed the city’s street and maintenance departments for 19 years before retiring, said the city is prepared for the predicted storm.
At the time, Choat said city streets were still very slick from the ice storm. “We’ve treated everything; of course we pre-treated with brine and then after the ice accumulated on the roads, we have treated with road salt. Everything has been treated,” he said. “We had slushed up some (Thursday) but it refroze last night and it’s just kind of a skating rink. It’s pretty slick.”
Choat said he was unaware of any accidents in town caused by the ice “Most folks are staying home like they should unless they just have to get out,” he added. “We are treating (streets) again today, and salting and if it slushes up again today, which I doubt that it will, we may plow some.” The city has enough salt to get through the winter, the mayor said.
When further hazardous weather comes, Eddyville is prepared. The city has two employees who handle the street department chores, “and I’m overseeing it,” Choat said. “I’ll be in a plow truck Sunday night and Monday morning (when the snow storm) comes about. I’m experienced with a lot of years, so that helps.”
The mayor also praised state and county road departments for the cooperative spirit the city enjoys with them in combating emergencies such as a weather crisis. “We’ve got a wonderful relationship with the state Transportation Cabinet and the county and the city of Kuttawa,” Choat said. “I appreciate the highway department.”
Choat advised the public not to “get out in bad weather. It’s going to be really cold. Don’t get out unless you have to and check on your neighbors and the elderly folks. Let’s be neighbors, that would be a big help I think with everything.”
Besides the winter weather, issues with the COVID-19 pandemic, have plagued Eddyville as well as all Kentucky communities and the nation. But, Choat has handled it in accord with the Centers for Disease Control and state guidelines. “City hall is closed to public access because of COVID,” he said. The city shut down its office when it was asked to do so by health authorities. “I’ve got older folks that I love and care for and I worry for them,” the mayor said.
As of Friday, Judge-Executive Wade White said the major highways here were in good shape. “Secondary roads are just now melting enough to plow,” White said. “We have salted everything and now we’re plowing in all districts. Things are still slick, but if the sun comes out we will make a lot of progress. We will probably work again tomorrow.”
White said county road employees had already put in about eight hours overtime. “But next week, there will be a lot of long nights,” he predicted, adding that the county has adequate salt to treat roads in predicted future or snow or ice events. He jokingly noted road crews would need “lots of coffee” if this week’s predicted snow materialized. White warned the public to stock up on groceries over the weekend, and advised that the worst times to travel are the early mornings “because everything freezes up.”