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Stay home, read the paper

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott

    As temperatures began to drop late Wednesday evening and snow flurries began to fill the air in the early morning hours Thursday, area residents began to ready themselves for the first major storm of the winter season.  Getting ready included extra trips to local stores to load up on supplies and trying to get work done early Thursday in order to get home and off of the roadways before the worst part of the weather settled into the Dallam and Hartley Counties area.

    The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was set up early Thursday morning at the Dalhart Fire Department in anticipation of emergencies caused by inclement weather.  TxDOT began assessing the roadways as soon as the snow began to fall and began road closures as the visibility worsened.

    Hartley County Sheriff Franky Scott, a member of the EOC, noted, “All the roads are shut down from Tucumcari and I-40.  As far as I’m concerned they are also shut down on 385 between Hartley and Channing.”  He noted that the weather system is much worse south of Dalhart.  In an earlier conversation with the Sheriff of Oldham County, Sheriff Scott learned that Vega is under large snowdrifts.  He added, “It’s way worse south of us and moving north.  We are at the very edge of the system, and I hope that it doesn’t come here.  Vega is a mess.”

    Area schools were also concerned with the weather.  Dalhart Independent School District Superintendent David Foote stated, “The busses will begin to run at 1:00 p.m., but any parent may pick up their child as soon as they wish.”  He added that a decision concerning school on Friday would be forthcoming later on Thursday, and stated, “We will have to make a decision about Friday this afternoon.  Parents should listen to the radio or watch TV to determine if we are open tomorrow.”  As of noon on Thursday, the likelihood of classes on Friday was minimal.

    Over at the United Supermarket, a frenzy of shoppers were loading shopping carts with water, bread, milk and eggs.  According to Jessica Scott, in Customer Services, “We completely ran out of bread and eggs, and those items are being restocked.  We have seen a far greater number of shoppers yesterday and Thursday morning than usual.”  She also noted, “Patrons are also purchasing products to remove ice and snow.”

    When the weather leads to road closures and trapped motorists, the State of Texas, Office of the Governor, sends out the National Guard to assist in rescue efforts.  Last year, more than 180 motorists were rescued in the March 2009 blizzard.  Sheriff Franky Scott stated, “The Chief of Police, Fire Marshall, Sheriffs and several firefighters are at the EOC.  We are watching the weather and staying abreast of the situation and are ready if emergencies on the roadways arise.  Everyone that does not have to be out should stay home.”

    Staying home is perhaps the best way to remain safe during such dangerous weather and road conditions.  Anyone who does not have to go into work should stay home.  The EOC announced that all roads leading out of Dalhart were closed to anyone not heading home or to work, and those people may too be stranded if the weather worsens.

    If a need arises to go outside or travel during the winter storm, people are advised to dress appropriately and include emergency supplies in their vehicles, including blankets, water, flashlight, batteries, food, and road flares; however, the need to stay indoors cannot be stressed enough.  Venturing out may not only jeopardize the safety of the person leaving the safety of the indoors, but those emergency responders who may find themselves out in the weather searching for stranded motorists.

    Friday may just be a great day to stay indoors, poor a deep cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and fall back into a cozy recliner with a newspaper.  The safety of home far outweighs non-essential reasons for going outside.