COVINGTON -- Preparation is the hot word in Newton County this weekend as prognosticators are warning that ice and snow is headed our way. The law enforcement community is gearing up for a major event and keeping their fingers crossed that it won't be as bad as experts now say.
"We're preparing for the worst case scenario which would be an ice storm, but hopefully we'll get more snow than ice," Covington Police Department Capt. Ken Malcom Saturday afternoon said. "We're hoping citizens will stay at home and off the roads so we can focus on emergency calls. If they have an emergency, we'll come to them."
Malcom said the CPD Patrol Unit is on double-duty and will have an extra shift of officers on duty during the storm.
"We're going to have two-man cars and some of us aren't going to be able to get home, so we're making arrangements for folks to stay at the station," he said, adding that the projections they're seeing from the National Weather Service is that the storm may be "a three-day event."
Likewise, the Newton County Sheriff's Office will have a full contingent of road deputies out, but they are also appealing to the community to stay off the roads.
"It looks like it's coming in late Sunday night and early Monday morning. Our Public Works Department is coming in early and we'll do the best we can with what we have," NCSO Lt. Mark Mitchell said. "If there's as much snow and ice as they say, we hope people will take a common sense approach."
He said if the weather was bad enough to warrant a resident's place of business to close, they should assume that meant it was unsafe for them to be on the road.
Both Mitchell and Malcom warned of the dangers of downed power lines and trees.
"Don't try to drive around them, over them or through them. That's very dangerous," Mitchell warned.
Call 911 to report any hazards, Malcom said, adding that children should be warned to stay away from power lines, and he also cautioned that residents should be aware of the potential for trees falling.
"We've got a lot of rotten trees out there," he said.
Malcom said the CPD's biggest traffic challenge would be Interstate 20, saying it seemed that semi-trucks always have problems negotiating the stretch of the interstate that runs through Covington.
"There's a slope and a curve in the roadway just as you enter the Covington city limits and a lot of trucks just slide sideways," he said.
"An accident on the interstate not only disrupts the normal flow of traffic, but it means we have to dedicate a lot of people to the area until it is cleared up."
Malcom said he would reiterate to the citizenry that they should stay inside and off the roads so that they are not endangering themselves or others.
"If we can just convince people not to get out and sightsee ... their focus should be on safety," he said.