Officials say stay off roads

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

COVINGTON -- Public safety crews are advising Newton County residents to hunker down and ride out the snow storm that blanketed the area Sunday night and early Monday.

Most roads were impassable at midday Monday, and conditions were expected to worsen due to predicted freezing rain later in the day.

"Most people seem like they're being smart and staying home. (The roads) are probably as bad as they've been in 10 or 15 years," said Billy Bouchillon, public works director for the city of Covington.

Some residents have called to request the city scrape neighborhood streets so they can leave, but Bouchillon said the city doesn't have the necessary equipment.

"Spending $500,000 on a piece of equipment you're going to use once every 15 years isn't too smart," he said. Crews can spread sand, but there's little they can do to remove the ice and snow.

It's best everyone stay home and stay safe, Bouchillon said.

"This is probably going to be around for a while. The good thing is, everybody had plenty of advance warning," he said.

Even the U.S. Post Office was affected. Trucks weren't able to deliver mail from Duluth to the Covington Carrier Annex, and local postal carriers were sidelined. As of noon Monday, Manager Jerry Romero was still waiting to hear from the district office whether carriers would be able to deliver. Some residents were upset they hadn't received their mail, he said, but the safety of carriers is of utmost concern.

City of Covington Utilities Director Bill Meecham said there had been only one significant weather-related outage, on Deep Step Road off U.S. Highway 278. It affected part of a subdivision, but power was restored quickly.

Meecham said his real worry was the freezing rain Monday afternoon.

"Today, not much snow accumulated on the lines or trees. But if it goes below freezing, that's what we fear most. Trees will fall into lines and tear them down. They are forecasting more ice today," he said Monday.

Snapping Shoals EMC spokeswoman Leigh Anne Burgess had no outages to report Monday, but said crews were prepared should that change.

"In addition to our crews on standby, we brought in 30 guys from South Georgia co-ops. They're staying at the FFA Camp in anticipation of inclement weather," she said.

The National Weather Service indicated more sleet and freezing rain Monday would likely still be around today, with temperatures expected to be at freezing or below.