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11:29 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Snow Day: Authorities Mobilize As The State Shuts Down

US 64, Wendell
Credit NC Department of Transportation

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is all hands on deck this morning.

More than four hundred trucks have been in action over the last 48 hours pre-treating and clearing roadways of snow from the mountains to the Outer Banks.

The western piedmont got about an inch of snow, and some areas of the Triangle near I-95 have seen 5 inches. Snow accumulations in Easter North Carolina could exceed six inches.

Most schools across the region are closed today.

I have two almost-3 year olds, and this is the first time they've been aware of snow. I plan on snow cream and snow men and snow angels. So I've got big plans for the next day or so. - Vivian Howard

Kids all across Central and Eastern North Carolina are getting a chance to frolic in a fresh layer of snow.  Vivian Howard and her husband own the Oyster Bar in Kinston, which stayed open during the brunt of last evening's storm.

“I have two almost-3 year olds, and this is the first time they've been aware of snow,” Howard said. “I plan on snow cream and snow men and snow angels. So I've got big plans for the next day or so.”

Organization

The North Carolina government mobilized prior to last night's snowfall to have people in place to assist residents in need of help.  National Guardsmen and women are in communities across the central and eastern part of the state to lend that assistance. 

Major General Gregory Lusk leads the state Guard.  He said crews in Humvees are ready to roll through the snow to help travelers. Lusk said the Guard has not been asked to participate in snow removal.  He said they do have the equipment to do it.

Snow was still falling until mid-morning today in the Eastern part of the state. Forecasters predicted up to 8 inches in the Elizabeth City area.

NCDOT deployed more than 50 trucks with salt and plows to the area, which worked through the night to clear main roads.

The View From The Roads

Basically the only thing that we're going to go out and do right now is anything that's on a state road. Anything else, you can't get down there...our trucks just slide in too. -Mike Weisz

Mike Weisz owns Pro Tow and Recovery in Elizabeth City. He said snow keeps his company busy, towing cars out of ditches. But Wise said he's only been able to help the stranded motorists who have called him from roads NCDOT has already plowed overnight.

“Basically the only thing that we're going to go out and do right now is anything that's on a state road. Anything else, you can't get down there. A lot of times, there's no traction on the road for the truck to stick to, so when we start pulling on them, our trucks just slide in too.”

Weisz said if he can't get a motorist's car off the side of the road, he'll give the driver a lift to somewhere safe until the roads clear up.

The State Highway Patrol said all roads in the Triangle are covered with snow, ice or sleet -- or all three.

First Sergeant Jeff Gordon said state troopers responded to 33 calls for service overnight, including collisions, and stranded motorists. Gordon said he expects those numbers to increase during this morning's commute.

“The roads are still treacherous. The DOT is still in the process of treating those roads, but the temperature is not going to get above freezing today, so there's not going to be any melting whatsoever,” Gordon explained. “So we're just urging people, if you don't need to get out onto the highways, then don't.”

Gordon asks people who do have to drive to be careful. He said they should look up road conditions before leaving home and drive slowly.

He asks that if they do get into an accident, that they be patient as the highway patrol works to respond.

State transportation officials say social media is one of the best ways to keep updated on emergency services as this snowfall begins to taper off. 

NCDOT's Twitter feed has been one of the central hubs people have followed this week to learn more about cleanup efforts both locally and statewide.

Lisa Schell is New Media Coordinator for the department.

“We follow local law enforcement and emergency management feeds,” Schell explained. “And one of the things we try to do as much as we can is, not only share our information, but share their information as well, so that the folks who may be following us can get their information and notifications.” Look for  @NCDOT on Twitter or follow them on Facebook.