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Bracing for the cold?

POSTED: January 6, 2014 8:19 p.m.

More chilly weather is in store for Effingham County, with temperatures likely in the teens and wind chills as low as single digits early Tuesday morning and into Wednesday.

Though it may not be the below-zero temperatures people are dealing with in some other parts of the country, local officials are prepared for any potential problems.

Effingham Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Myrick said he asked for the county’s public works department to put sand “on all the bridges in Effingham County” on Monday, in order to make them safer for drivers.

“I’m assuming that the bridges are going to freeze,” Myrick said. “Especially our first responders, if they’re not used to that kind of weather to begin with, it’s easy to forget and hit that bridge at above-average speed — and it’s all over with.”

Maintenance crews are on call and the American Red Cross has arranged to open a shelter in Springfield if needed, Myrick said. He added that EEMA is staying in close communication with Georgia Power.

“Falling trees on power lines is my biggest threat,” Myrick said.

EEMA will pass along any severe weather, shelter or traffic updates through the local media and on social media sites. However, Myrick said, Effingham residents also can stay informed by signing up for EEMA’s text alerts.

To sign up, text “follow effinghamema” to 40404 from any mobile device, and any EEMA alert will be sent to that device. Myrick will even make house calls for senior citizens who need a hand with signing up for the service.

“We’ll ride out to their house,” he said. “I’ll take their phone, I’ll punch it in, I’ll hit ‘send’ and I’ll hand it right back to them and they’ll have notifications forever.”

Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable during the frigid weather, reminded Dr. James Cornwell, chief of staff for Effingham Health System. His advice for handling the cold snap includes checking on elderly or homebound neighbors.

“Stay inside, stay warm, check on your neighbors and drive careful,” Cornwell said.

As of press time, no plans had been made to close Effingham County public schools. That could change if “problems arise like with power (outages),” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse.

Though children will need to be bundled up for the bus stop, they should at least be warm on the bus. The county’s school buses are equipped with heating systems, Shearouse said.

The cold temperatures are garnering much of the attention, but Myrick is actually more concerned about flooding than freezing. A flood warning from the National Weather Service is in effect through this morning.

“That’s just because of all the rain that we had and it’s not hot at all, and naturally this is flood season anyway,” he said.

The Savannah River was at 12.79 feet as of Monday afternoon, Myrick said, and 11 feet is considered the flood stage for Effingham. No damage had been reported, he added. The Ogeechee River was at 7.66 feet, below Effingham’s flood stage of approximately 13 feet.

The good news is that the freezing temperatures should soon be on their way out. The forecast calls for Effingham County’s high temperature to be in the low 70s by this weekend.

“Gotta love the weather,” Myrick said with a laugh.

Weather updates
To sign up for text alerts from Effingham Emergency Management:
Text “follow effinghamema” to 40404


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