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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Storm causes minimal damage

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

With classes being canceled Tuesday and Wednesday, busses at the Clay Community School Corporation's bus depot became iced over. Ivy Jacobs Photo. [Order this photo]
Mother Nature took another swing at Clay County residents Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, yet it wasn't all that bad.

"We're pretty stable right now," Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband told The Brazil Times about the second winter storm front that dumped more ice and snow on the Wabash Valley. "Travel right now in the county is limited to necessary travel only. Our main roads are open, but tree limbs are down everywhere on the ice-covered county roads. Traveling right now just isn't a good idea."

However, staying home is a problem for many local residents as well.

According to information provided by officials with Duke Energy and Parke County REMC, more than 3,000 Clay County homes were without power as of Wednesday morning.

With so many power outages reported throughout the county, Husband said the Brazil National Guard Armory was opened as a "warming shelter" for anyone who needs to get in out of the cold.

"The facility is there if people need it," Husband said. "It will be open for 72 hours (through Friday), but could potentially remain open longer if there are people there."

Husband said the National Guard personnel were notified to be on standby and were available to assist during the winter storm, but have yet to be activated.

Bryan Husband
Meanwhile, emergency personnel all over the county were kept busy responding to reports of tree limbs falling into power lines and outages.

"There were power outages all over the place last night," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said about the department's busy night in the wintry mix. "It seemed to be non-stop at one point."

Heaton said it's "business as normal" for the department, with no serious accidents reported within Clay County.

However, ice did create some communication problems by slowing down the processing of radio signals.

"The radios worked, but an officer might have to wait for a busy signal for a moment. Other than that, things are going smoothly," Heaton said. "People are staying home."

Around 8:45 p.m., Tuesday, the Clay County Commissioners issued a statement closing the roads with the exception to emergency situations.

"There were falling trees and power lines, so it was a very dangerous situation out there (Tuesday) night," Brown said Wednesday. "All of the emergency responders were out and wore out, so as it got later in the evening we called everyone off to start again in the morning when there was light to better protect everyone."

Brown did clarify that it was not an official state of emergency.

"The governor has to be the one who has to call an official state of emergency," Brown said. "If one is called, there could be funding available to assist counties with cleanup and repair efforts."

As a safety precaution, local officials also closed government offices Tuesday and Wednesday.

"With the ice storm warning and the conditions at the time, we felt it was the best and safest option to close the courthouse for another day," Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders told The Brazil Times. "We didn't want to put county employees or residents wanting to use services at the courthouse to put themselves in a dangerous situation by being out on the roads, which were extremely slick and icy."

Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw agreed, and made the decision to close Brazil City Hall and suspending Sanitation (Trash) service for Wednesday.

"It's just not safe out there four city employees or the residents to be traveling right now," Bradshaw said. "We also didn't want the sanitation employees out on the slick roads in that big truck, so trash pickup will run at least one day behind schedule the rest of the week, and we will review the situation regularly to make further decisions on what to do."

According to officials, the weather will be a factor in the decisions to keep these offices closed again Thursday.

As for the Brazil City Police Department, Police Chief Larry Pierce said things were basically quiet.

"Although there have been power outages all over the city and several reports of power lines and tree limbs down, we've been really fortunate," Pierce said. "The department has been prioritizing our calls, placing emergencies first."

Overall, officials agree the situation is not as bad as it could have been.

"We're doing really good," Husband said. "People are just going to have to give Mother Nature a chance to thaw things out before they start traveling anywhere."

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