Local agencies, utilities brace for winter storm impact

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — While winter weather can wreak havoc on roads and utilities, local and state officials are working through the night to ensure people stay safe during and after the upcoming storm.

While Alabama Power has crews ready to respond in the event of an outage, spokeswoman Keisa Sharp said it might not be necessary.

“Based on current weather reports, we’re not anticipating any major outages on our system,” Sharp said. “But weather changes, so we are always standing by at the ready.”

Jim Coker, the director of Jefferson County’s Emergency Management Agency, agrees with Sharp: the biggest problems won’t lie on the power lines, but on the roads.

“We hope to just get snow. We hope to not get any ice. It will be a travel issue,” Coker said. “If you think about Saturday, everything could refreeze, everything could stay frozen. My recommendation is don’t travel, beginning tomorrow through Saturday.”

For that reason, Coker is encouraging everyone to stock up on food, supplies and medication for a couple of days.

Meanwhile, Coker spent the day Thursday making sure county and city agencies were ready to respond to any problems that might come up, as early as 5:30 Friday morning.

Thursday afternoon, the Alabama Department of Transportation sent trucks out to spread liquid de-icer on the state’s major interstates.

Cities, like Hoover, are also preparing to de-ice.

Lori Salter-Schommer, Spokeswoman for the City, said trucks are already loaded with sand and ready to roll out.

“We’re ready for whatever (the storm) brings,” Salter-Schommer said.

Governor Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency for Alabama ahead of the storm.

“I am encouraging all Alabama residents to be prepared for the potential of significant winter weather and I have directed my essential state agencies to do the same,” Governor Robert Bentley said in a statement. “With any severe weather event there is always a measure of uncertainty; however, it is important for everyone to take the necessary precautions and stay informed of the latest weather predictions in your area. I have issued a State of Emergency to ensure all available state resources are ready to be deployed if and when it is deemed necessary.”

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