County slowly recovering from ravages of snowstorm, dangerous cold

Authored by Jim Langham on Jan 8, 2014

The realization of what bitter cold can do hit home on Monday evening when a water main break limited water supply to the point that many residents and businesses in Decatur had no water pressure.
However, Adams County Emergency Management director John August said last evening that it was anticipated that enough water pressure would be available for residents to bathe and flush toilets.
“Any water must be boiled before consumption until further notice,” said August. “We are currently working on getting bottled water for the citizens of Decatur.”
August said that the water main broke about 11 p.m. on Monday. The location of the break wasn’t clear and it took crews several hours to find it in the middle of a field.
The City of Decatur, Adams County Sheriff and the Emergency Operations Center will provide residents of Decatur with current information. To receive the most current information, residents are asked call 211. A person will answer any questions and provide the most current information needed.
Adams County road superintendent Mark Mitchel said late Tuesday afternoon that cold was more of a culprit than blowing snow in the ongoing travel crisis in the county.
“We can’t keep any of the vehicles running,” said Mitchel. “We have fixed three or four vehicles. The snow is bad enough but the cold weather is the worst part about all of this.”
Mitchel said that there are still many roads to be cleared. He noted that the constant gusty winds have made it difficult to clear many of the roads.
“We’re gaining but it is slow,” said Mitchel. “Hopefully by tomorrow night we will have the roads all widened out. We have a lot to do. We can use all of the patience from people that we can get. Many of the roads are terrible; people get stir crazy and go out there and get stuck. Then that slows our work down.”
Berne Mayor Bill McKean said that things have gone smooth around the city, but he had held up trash pickup because he didn’t want any of the workers to be injured by the severe cold in the mornings.
As a result, McKean said, Monday and Tuesday’s route will run on Wednesday, and Wednesday and Thursday’s route will run on Thursday.
“We will make every attempt to meet this schedule,” said McKean. “City offices (which had been closed Monday and Tuesday) will be open on Wednesday. We thank the citizens of Berne for your patience during these dangerous weather situations.”
McKean said that Berne city officials were able to help with the water main break crisis in Decatur.
“We have a portable saw to cut pipe. Their machine was not getting it so they were able to use ours,” commented McKean. “Because of the overflow with the water situation, we sent a salt truck to help with all of the frozen water.
“The guys have done well; we have really good employees,” said McKean. “Tomorrow we will go full bore.”
McKean credited snow removal employees for plowing off many inches of the initial part of the storm on Sunday afternoon.
“The snow was so deep already that it was hard to get on Sunday afternoon. But if our employees wouldn’t have done that, it would have made things a lot worse later,” said the Mayor.
In Geneva, Clerk/Treasurer Bill Warren said that there were no serious problems and streets were plowed as usual. He noted that drifting on some of the outlying streets made things more difficult, with drifts of three and four feet covering Winchester Street in some places.
One other problem was with the town tractor where hydraulic fluid had frozen.
“The town roads are snow covered but they are all open,” said Warren. “The people of the town were so cooperative. Monday I went downtown to answer the phone. The stores were all closed and the streets were quiet. It gave the guys time to open the streets up. People cooperated and the guys worked hard.”
In Monroe, Town Council President Al Lehman was impressed with the many volunteers who helped open and maintain streets. Lehman said that many town people took it into their own hands to clean streets and alleys.
He said that he knew of one situation where an individual drove two miles into town to open the driveway of individuals who are in poor health.
“He plowed his whole way in and back home to help them out,” said Lehman. “You sure don’t get that everywhere.
“I had people come to me and ask who had plowed their streets or alleys. They described vehicles that I’m not even familiar with,” said Lehman. “I got up Monday morning and discovered that my entire walk was shoveled from my doorstep to the street. I still don’t know who did that.
“All I can say is that this outpouring is deeply appreciated. The residents of the town say, ‘thank you,’” said Lehman.

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