Governor Urges Public to Stay off Roads, Prepare for Potential Power Outages

  • February 12, 2014 • Public Safety, • Transportation and Infrastructure

    Raleigh, N.C. – As a winter storm bringing significant amounts of snow, ice and freezing rain occurs across North Carolina today, Governor Pat McCrory joined with state public safety and transportation officials to urge North Carolinians to prepare themselves for potential power outages and hazardous road conditions for the next few days. 

    “It is going to be a tough 48 hours. Heavy snow, ice and gusty winds are predicted across the state today and tomorrow, which could bring downed trees and power lines and create hazardous travel conditions,” Governor McCrory said. “In case of power outages, I urge all North Carolinians to be prepared with safe, alternative heating sources; to dress in warm, loose-fitting layers of clothing; and to use flashlights, instead of candles, for safety purposes.”

    Governor McCrory was joined by Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry, Highway Patrol Commander Colonel Bill Grey and National Guard Adjutant General Gregory Lusk.

    State agencies have been working throughout the week to prepare for storm response with local emergency management officials. Transportation crews have treated the roads with salt and brine. State Highway Patrol troopers on Tuesday received more than 1,400 calls for service – the majority of them weather-related – and N.C. National Guard soldiers with Humvees remain on standby for assistance as needed.

    Governor McCrory declared a State of Emergency yesterday, enabling him to mobilize the necessary resources to respond to a storm. It also is the first step in seeking federal funds to help defray the cost of providing emergency services, clearing debris and repairing any damaged public infrastructure. The declaration is executed under the Emergency Management Act.

    Also included in the executive order was a waiver on restrictions on weight and the hours of service for fuel, utility and other truck drivers that may be working to deliver supplies, restore services or clear debris in response to the winter storm. The waiver is in effect for 30 days.

    NCDOT crews are already responding quickly to the effects of the winter storm, plowing snow and addressing slick spots on roads and bridges across the state. In parts of northeastern North Carolina, including Dare and Hyde counties, up to eight inches of snow fell throughout the day Tuesday and into the overnight hours. Further south along the coast, Craven, Jones and Pamlico counties got more than 10 inches of snow yesterday. To the east, areas from Fayetteville down to the South Carolina border along I-95 saw one to three inches of snow. In the west, the mountains got up to four inches of snow yesterday, and more snow is falling there now.

    "Make no mistake, this is a dangerous storm. Roads will be treacherous, and we need everyone's help in limiting travel, so our team can make them safe again," said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. "We are well prepared and poised to respond quickly, but it will take some time to clear the thousands of miles of roadways."

    The department has more than NCDOT 1,440 employees actively focused on winter weather response efforts statewide. Using 865 NCDOT and contract trucks and motor graders, crews are plowing roads and have put down nearly 5,000 tons of salt and sand on affected roadways. The department is prepared to shift forces, as needed, from areas with lower impacts to areas with higher impacts.

    Because forecasters predict significant snow and ice accumulation, NCDOT is planning ahead for potential debris removal, preparing equipment such as chain saws and lining up contractors to assist with clearing downed trees from the roadways. NCDOT reminds drivers that falling trees can bring down power lines. If you see trees entangled in power lines in the road, turn around and find another route. Do not approach them.

    In a proactive effort to combat the storm, 1,393 NCDOT employees sprayed nearly 2.8 million gallons of brine on major roadways across the state from Sunday to Tuesday. They used 454 NCDOT trucks and 18 contract trucks to dispense the solution, which helps prevent ice and snow from bonding to the pavement.

    NCDOT encourages motorists to get the latest information on road conditions by calling 511, visiting the department’s real-time travel information website and following NCDOT’s Twitter accounts

    You can find updated weather and road conditions on the web site or with the new ReadyNC mobile app. The free app is available for iPhones and Android devices in the AppStore and Play Store; search “ReadyNC.”

    “Our first responders at the state and local level are prepared and ready for this storm,” Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry said. “We ask that North Carolinians join us in keeping up with changing conditions by watching or listening to local media, and ensuring that your families, friends and neighbors are prepared to weather this storm safely.”

    NCNG has prepositioned 112 guardsmen with Humvees to help local emergency managers respond to the winter storm. 

    Utilities companies reported more than 6,600 power outages as of 8 a.m., with the majority of those occurring in New Hanover County. There is a potential for additional power outages over the next few days with the predicted combination of ice and heavy winds. North Carolinians should follow these winter safety tips:

    • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them. 
    • Do not use charcoal grills or generators indoors; the fumes can be deadly.
    • Turn off electrical appliances that were on when the power went off to avoid a power surge when the electricity is restored.
    • Use flashlights. Do not use candles; they greatly increase the chance of having a fire in your home. 
    • Limit your activities to no more than two rooms and close off unneeded rooms. 
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors and cover windows at night to keep cold air out and warm air in. 
    • If you have well water, fill up tubs and buckets with it so if the power goes out you still have water.
    • Remember to eat and drink regularly. Food provides the body with energy to produce its own heat. 
    • Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. 
    • Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Layering clothes keeps you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.

    "We urge motorists to continue to monitor the conditions and to stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary to travel,” said Colonel Bill Grey. “Our troopers are ready to assist stranded motorists as needed, but the best way to remain safe is to stay off the roads. So far we’ve had one fatality and one serious injury where weather may have been a contributing factor. We send our condolences to their family and friends, and hope no one else falls victim to this storm.” 

    Motorists are reminded NOT to call 911 or the State Highway Patrol Communication Centers for roadway conditions; those lines must remain clear for emergency calls.

    If you must travel, the North Carolina Highway Patrol recommends following these safety tips: 

    Reduce your speed. Driving at the regular speed limit will reduce your ability to control the car if you begin to slide.  Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles.  Bridges and overpasses accumulate ice first. Approach them with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on the bridge. If you do begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car.