Wilkes County braces for hazardous conditions from winter storm

Wilkes County Emergency Management crews are ready for the snow heading their way, but waking up to a winter wonderland is the least of their concerns.

WILKES COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Governor Nathan Deal wasted no time in declaring a state of emergency for 79 South Georgia counties ahead of the winter weather threat this weekend.

Wilkes County Emergency Management crews are ready for the snow heading their way, but waking up to a winter wonderland is the least of their concerns.

Emergency Management Director Blake Thompson is taking the winter storm warning very seriously.

Thompson says he has crews set up throughout the county, an on-call crew ready to step-in and the National Guard on standby if needed.

Still, it’s what comes after the snow melts that his department is bracing for.

“The biggest thing we’re looking at here, and my concern, is Sunday morning and Monday morning when it melts and refreezes.” Thompson told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

As the winter storm nears and temperatures begin to fall, Wilkes County E.M.S. is loading up trucks with more than 100 tons of salt, sand and gravel to clear roadways for emergency vehicles.

“We don’t get this type of weather often,” said City of Washington Public Works Director Bobby Mills.

Crews started preparing early by checking supplies, going through equipment and restocking the ambulance.

Anytime there’s severe weather Thompson says they set-up emergency crews throughout the county, including one in Tignall, Ga., which is about 10 miles outside of the City of Washington.

This makes it easier to get to people, who may need help, on the outskirts of Wilkes County.

“We don’t want to set back and just wait for it to happen,” Thompson told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “We want to be ready around the clock.”

Thompson says people should to be prepared to stay home for the next three days.

While, his team is monitoring the changing forecast, black ice is his biggest worry going into the weekend.

“My concern is not the snow. It’s going to be the ice, the sleet and rain. I have my fingers crossed and I hope it doesn’t happen,” said Thompson.

Mills warns the snow, mixed with sleet and freezing rain create the perfect storm for hazardous conditions and warns drivers to stay off the roadways.

“How do you manage the roads when there are situations like black ice?” Asked WJBF NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“If you have areas, like where you have steep inclines and stuff like that. It may come to the point where we may have to block the road completely and put road closed signs up. Other than that the roads that are passable, we try to keep them open.” Mills said.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 wants to remind our viewers that they should avoid driving this weekend if possible.

In case of any emergencies you can call 911.

For information about any road closures and road condition, you can call Wilkes County E.M.S. at 706-678-7837.

Thompson says if school is canceled a formal announcement will be made on Sunday.

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