Newton officials brace for 'major' weather event

COVINGTON — Newton County Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien said the Covington-Newton County Emergency Management Agency is bracing for a major weather event that could bring as much as 1 ½ inch of snow and more than ¾ inches of ice.

“We’re looking at a total of over 2 inches of precipitation on roads, trees and power lines. That’s a pretty major event for us,” O’Brien said. “When we get those numbers of ice on power lines, it can cause pretty significant damage and power failures.”

The EMA operation center opened Tuesday at 3 p.m. and is staffed with representatives from all county agencies. He said the worst part of the storm is not expected to hit until early morning hours Wednesday, but the operations center will be staffed throughout the duration.

He said the public should call 911 for help or emergencies since the 911 center is equipped to handle a large volume of calls. The 911 Center will forward calls for medical issues and non life-threatening problems to the command center.

“The No. 1 thing is to stay at home,” O’Brien said. “The schools are closed and most businesses will be closed, so there’s no reason to get out. The biggest help the community can provide is for people just staying home.”

He also said in the event of power outages, people should use extreme caution when using generators and be mindful of keeping them in open spaces to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. O’Brien also urged residents to practice fire safety and make sure to keep an eye on fires in the fireplace and to extinguish all candles when going to sleep or leaving a room.

O’Brien said another weather briefing with the National Weather Service will be held today at 8:30 p.m.

Check back with the Citizen for more updates.