Supervisors announce plans for offices, garbage collection
Panola County will remain on a weather shut down through the end of this week after the Board of Supervisors deemed county roads too dangerous to open the Courthouses at Batesville and Sardis again Friday.
Supervisors decided to keep garbage collection trucks off the roads, and hope to resume regular routes on Monday, Feb. 22. The Solid Waste Department’s trucks can be damaged frozen trash is compacted and the cold weather causes problems with the hydraulic systems that operate the collection arms.
Additionally, the area landfills that Panola County hauls waste to are closed, and roads to those locations are not passable anyway.
Emergency Operations Management director Daniel Cole recommended to supervisors on Wednesday that the board make a State of Emergency declaration of the second wave of the winter storm that brought additional ice and snow to the county late Wednesday through Thursday morning.
Cole said the early declaration put the county one step ahead in the process of having state and federal reimbursements for overtime and extra expenses the county will incur during the storm. All employees in Cole’s office and most of the Road Department’s employees have worked almost around the clock since early this week to monitor road conditions and put the county’s few equipment resources in the most-needed places.
Much of Cole’s time is spent documenting costs and damages of weather events and other disasters to give the county its best possible positioning for relief funds from both MEMA and FEMA. Those grants and reimbursements are vital for the county’s ability to provide help to citizens during disasters of a wide sort.
So far, Cole said there has been little reports of structure damages and not a large number of trees down. Thursday afternoon part of the canopy over the gas pumps at the Mobil station on Hwy. 6E (next to Lowes and across from the Marathon Station) collapsed from the weight of ice and snow. There were no reported injuries.
There have been injuries reported from across the county of people hurt while riding ATVs or riding sleds in the snow. Riders can’t see what’s under the snow and several people have been hurt when they hit ditch culverts and limbs covered with a blanket of white.
One person in the Pope area sustained a broken leg when the canoe they were riding in down a slope crashed into a tree. Two young girls in the north part of the county were reportedly hurt while being pulled on a sled behind a four-wheeler and needed treatment at a Memphis hospital.
Road conditions were worse Thursday than Wednesday although the Road Dept. had cleared a considerable number of miles in high traffic areas throughout the county. Cole said one problem is drivers with “cabin fever” riding roads without realizing the danger they are putting other drivers in, and possibly slowing the clearing work on roads. “We just need everyone that can stay home to please do so,” he said.
Cole’s office has been busy taking generators to homes of elderly citizens who are on oxygen at home and have lost power. Most of the outages in the county have been worked, and electricity had been restored in almost all of Panola by Thursday.
Linemen from TVEPA and Entergy were on standby expecting the worst Wednesday, but the second round of weather that moved through was mostly snow and ice did not accumulate to a dangerous degree on power lines or trees causing them to fall on lines.
MDOT has kept Hwy. 6 and I-55 passable this week, but both high-traffic roads have seen a number of accidents. The state will continue to work on the main thoroughfares until temperatures rise enough to begin melting ice and snow this weekend.
MDOT will also continue to assign resources to high-traffic state aid roads, including Hwy. 35, Hwy. 315, Pope-Water Valley Rd., Panola Ave., and others.
In the City of Batesville, all offices and departments will remain closed until Monday. Some employees have remained on call and workers in the Water and Waste Water Departments have worked almost non-stop to repair line breaks and keep the delivery of water and removal of waste running smoothly as possible in the freezing conditions.
For students in the county, South Panola and North Delta have been on their pandemic-designed Distance Learning programs, and classwork has presumably continued in as normal a fashion as can be expected.