NEWBERRY — Winter Storm Pax swept its way across Newberry County this week, but with the help of local law enforcement, fire department, power companies, and others, the county and its municipalities were able to handle things as normally as possible.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Linton said that in southern and central Newberry County the general snow accumulation was 4-6 inches with 6-8 inches accumulation in the northern areas of the county. There was about one fourth of an inch of ice accumulation as well.
“When you have a situation like this with a mixture it is hard to forecast exactly what will occur. We were looking at a variety of models and updating forecasts as the situation warranted,” said Linton. “Four to five days prior to the storm we knew there would be a transition (from snow to sleet to ice and frozen rain) but it was hard to say for sure where it would be. The closer we got to the event, the more definitive forecasts we could make.”
For the City of Newberry Police Department, Police Chief Jackie Swindler said he was thankful that they had not responded to many wrecks this week.
“We’ve had cars slide and get stuck, and we’ve helped them with that, but thankfully no wrecks thus far,” Swindler said Thursday morning.
Although Swindler did not have an exact number, he said they had done a lot of transports this week to places such as J.F. Hawkins Nursing Home, Newberry Hospital and places where it was necessary that individuals get to work in inclement weather.
Swindler’s advice: “If you don’t have to be out, don’t go out.”
As part of their emergency plan, Swindler said the department was staged and ready to go Monday, with all of their vehicles gassed up, and chains on their tires for difficult road situations. “People brought supplies with them in case they had to stay,” Swindler said.
Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said the primary thing they do for their emergency plan is service critical need areas including EMS, and getting medical personnel to their jobs. They also check on the elderly and on homes of people served by disabilities and special needs. All the shift officers, the court officers, and the school resource officers are mobilized, according to Foster.
Foster said the county was prepared with plenty of four-wheel drive vehicles from those they purchased over the years from a variety of sources, including Army surplus. Many citizens had volunteered to help with their vehicles.
“While we appreciated the volunteers, we were fortunate enough not to need them,” Foster said.
In terms of transports, Foster said that from 6 a.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, sheriff deputies made approximately 152 medically-related transports.
As of 9 a.m. Thursday, Keith Minick with the city fire department said they had not had to respond to any calls. “I think everyone has been staying inside and adhering to those warnings,” Minick said.
If they were to get a call, Minick said what concerned him the most was the building up of snow and ice and first responders not being able to see ditches.
“We hope people continue to stay inside and monitor their conditions and keep the roads open. Cars on side of road could hamper response,” Minick said. “We’ve got crews out riding around trying to relay information back to the station so that we know our response to get best times despite the adverse weather.”
At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, SCE&G reported approximately 60 power outages throughout Newberry County. Duke Power reported that as of Thursday morning, it still did not have any customers without power in the county, but was taking precautions in case there were outages.
Duke Power had 3,400 field workers in its service areas, with additional workers that came in Thursday afternoon. Their plan was to access the areas where there was damage, to remove debris (if any) and begin to repair problems as quickly as possible.
Also Thursday morning, the Newberry Electric Cooperative reported 1,049 members without power, but the number had been fluctuating consistently due to the storm.
“All of our crews are out working,” said Debra Shaw, with NEC. Shaw said the majority of NEC customers without power were in the Prosperity area near lake, but that sporadic outages occurred throughout the county.
Lee Ringer with the Clinton Newberry Natural Gas Authority said that the storm had not really affected CNNGA business due to most of their equipment being underground. Ringer said that since the storm began they have had no calls for possible leaks.
“No issues here, but we are fully staffed and were open yesterday (Wednesday), today (Thursday), and will be open Friday as well,” Ringer said.
School District Plans
Pam Arrington, human resources director for the School District of Newberry County said that as of Thursday morning, no decisions had been made as far as to making up the snow days from this week’s storm.
“A lot depends on the legislature and what they decide,” Arrington said. “We have two more days built into our yearly calendar for use as snow days in addition to Feb. 17. (Prior to this storm) we had scheduled to have school Monday on President’s Day, one of our scheduled make-up days.”
With possible power outages and driving conditions, plans may have changed for Valentine’s Day for local restaurants, flower shops, and stores.
Thursday morning, Thelma’s Flowers in Prosperity said they were open and still making deliveries as far as White Rock to the Lowman Home but Thelma’s florist business had been pretty quiet due to the storm.
The Waffle House, located at 2195 S.C. 773, has cancelled its “Waffles are for Lovers” event originally scheduled for Friday night. They have no plans to make up the date.
Mid-Carolina Club in Prosperity has also cancelled its Valentine’s Day event for couples Friday evening. Sysco could not guarantee food delivery on time due to the storm.
If you still plan to venture out for that special Valentine’s Day evening, double check before leaving that your destination restaurant has remained open and still plans to honor reservations.