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Lawrence County Commissioners declare state of emergency

Tuesday morning at 10:06 the Lawrence County Commissioners held an emergency meeting on their Facebook page. Because of the limited internet capacity, only audio was available instead of the typical video format.

Commissioner DeAnna Holliday started by the meeting by calling for unity saying, “We have been devastated in our county by an ice storm that has left many of you without power. We are meeting today to declare a state of emergency in Lawrence County. We ask all of our citizens to look after each other. If you have neighbors that are in need and you have the ability to help them we ask that you do that in our county today.”

County Emergency Management Director Mike Boster provided an update to the commissioners, noting that the first ice storm did much damage. “The situation now is more devastating than it was during the first round of ice storms. It’s important that everyone stay put as much as possible. Road crews are out clearing roadways of trees. Utility companies are coordinated with the road crews to try to get utility lines out of the roadway so if necessary emergency vehicles can access various areas.”

Boster urged people to stay safe and stay where they are if possible. “Our emergency dispatch centers have been very busy, overwhelmed if you can imagine. If you have questions about utility restoration or things like that, please do not reach out to our 911 or other dispatch services. They are extremely busy getting emergency vehicles to where they need to go. It’s simply going to take time to do what we need to do to recover and get this community back to our normal, functioning community.”

Boster explained that he has been coordinating with ODOT, the county engineer, AEP, Buckeye Rural Electric and others in an attempt to work in tandem to clear the roads and get utilities on. “The outages are large. The outage for Buckeye Rural is extremely large. It’s not only service lines, but transmission lines in a lot of places that are very inaccessible. Not necessarily along a right of way. Areas that need to be accessed by four wheelers, ATVs, things like that. We ask that folks be patient,” he said.

Boster indicated the possibility of a third round of an ice and winter storm event Wednesday and Thursday. “There is going to bring another round of challenges. We urge people to be as prepared as possible. It’s going to be a matter of informing yourselves what you need to do. In addition to the state of emergency currently declared by the county commission, which will allow us to reach up for state resources and assistance, I’ve spoken with road crews, about 5 a.m. The county engineer was going to be delayed in treating and plowing the roads simply because of the number of trees. They’re going to spend a tremendous amount of time just clearing the trees and debris from the roadways before they can even treat that”

He continued, saying that as soon as it was safe to do so, the roads would be cleared.

Speaking of additional challenges the county will face today, Boster said, “maybe you’ve noticed that it is a little windy today and we still have a tremendous amount of ice on the trees. That means that there’s a good possibility that we’re going to lose utilities over again, or many areas that have utilities still on right now to lose them, due to continuously falling trees because of the wind and the ice load on the trees. So, we have established a coordinating zoom meeting with all of those entities, the utilities, road crews, government, several others involved, law enforcement, EMS, each afternoon where we will review progress made that day and plan missions that need to be accomplished for the next day and the days ahead. We are coordinating, we are communicating with one another, and we are doing our best to get this county back to where it needs to be.”

The warming center in Ironton at 400 Vernon Street in Ironton at First Baptist Church Faith and Fitness Center is still available, but is not staffed. In order to access this service, residents can contact Eric Barns at 740-442-7750 for assistance. The Proctorville area is currently without power, so their warming station is not currently available as they do not have generator back up services. Boster said they are currently working with AEP to get power restored to that area. They’re also working with Ohio University Southern and Proctorville to arrange warming centers.

Relevant information will be posted to www.lawrencecounty.org and the commissioner Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ohioslcc/, as it is available.