Saturday, November 29, 2014

Snow time to panic: Treacherous conditions spur disaster label

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 2/5/2014

When Old Man Winter looked like he wasn’t going to ease up Tuesday, Franklin County sent out a Declaration of Disaster just in case additional resources from the state were needed, Alan Radcliffe, director of Franklin County Emergency Management, said.

“It lets the state know we could need additional resources to handle an event like this snow event,” he said. “We could need additional resources to help remove people from stranded vehicles like the National Guard. We don’t anticipate that, but we can do a declaration of disaster when a disaster occurs or if we anticipate a disaster to occur.”

When Old Man Winter looked like he wasn’t going to ease up Tuesday, Franklin County sent out a Declaration of Disaster just in case additional resources from the state were needed, Alan Radcliffe, director of Franklin County Emergency Management, said.

“It lets the state know we could need additional resources to handle an event like this snow event,” he said. “We could need additional resources to help remove people from stranded vehicles like the National Guard. We don’t anticipate that, but we can do a declaration of disaster when a disaster occurs or if we anticipate a disaster to occur.”

The declaration expires seven days from the time it is declared, Radcliffe said. Conditions got so bad that the State of Kansas issued its own declaration of disaster, he said.

“[The state] put the federal government, or FEMA, on notice that they may need assets from FEMA,” he said.

A press release Tuesday from Gov. Sam Brownback’s office said the Kansas National Guard was deploying nine teams consisting of two Humvees and four soldiers to transport emergency and medical personnel and assist stranded motorists. The teams would operate out of Dodge City, Emporia, Hays, Hiawatha, Iola, Kansas City, Kan., Mission, Salina, Topeka and Wichita, the release said.

“We still have some of the most difficult conditions ahead of us as the snowfall is followed by heavy winds and bitterly cold temperatures,” Brownback said. “Travel will remain treacherous and temperatures will be dangerously cold. So, please, stay safe and if you don’t have to travel, stay home.”

Three fatalities in Kansas had been confirmed midday Wednesday, according to a press release from the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department.

Kansas Highway Patrol officials said one death resulted from a two-vehicle wreck 7:49 a.m. Tuesday in Harvey County on I-135, just north of Hesston, according to the release. The driver of one of the vehicles, a 58-year-old man from Moundridge, was taken to an area hospital and died overnight from his injuries, according to Maj. John Eichkorn, with the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Two other fatalities were reported Tuesday in Crawford County when two cars collided south of Pittsburg on U.S. 69, according to the release. The driver of one car, a 59-year-old woman from Pittsburg, and a passenger in the other car, a 67-year-old woman from Parsons, both were killed. Kansas Highway Patrol officials said weather appeared to be a factor in the wreck.

Many Franklin Countians took notice when officials urged people to stay off the roads, Rick Geist, Franklin County undersheriff, said.

“Everything went good yesterday, and we had no accidents,” Geist said. “We had a slide-off or two, but that was about it.”

Deputies didn’t have trouble getting around Tuesday, Geist said, and many of them drove I-35 to make sure no motorists had been stranded in their vehicles.

Wednesday was about the same, Geist said, with no accidents being reported mid-afternoon and he was keeping his fingers crossed it would stay that way.

The Ottawa Police Department also wasn’t snowed under with emergency calls.

Officers fielded a few assist calls, but nothing on the scale of last year’s storms, Capt. Adam Weingartner, with the Ottawa Police Department, said.

comments powered by Disqus