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Posted March 7, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Roads, utilities recovering from storm

By Joe Beck

The effects of the storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on much of the northern Shenandoah Valley continued to linger Thursday.

Schools in Shenandoah and Warren counties remained closed. Frederick County Public Schools opened on a one-hour delay and Winchester schools were operating on a two-hour delay.

Warren County school officials also called off classes for Friday, citing on a web site posting that heavy snow accumulations will "prevent children from standing or walking in safe areas while waiting for school buses or walking to school."

The SAT is still scheduled to be administered at Skyline High School on Saturday.

The National Weather Service reported snowfall of at least a foot through much of Warren and Shenandoah counties with some mountainous areas in Warren County receiving 17 to 20 inches.

Utilities were making progress in restoring power to more than 1,000 customers who lost electricity during the worst of the storm. The number had dropped to a handful by Thursday evening. Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative reported one outage in Shenandoah County. Rappahannock Electric Cooperative listed six customers without power in Warren County and two in Frederick County as of 4:53 p.m.

Rappahannock received help from cooperatives in seven states, one as far away as Georgia, according to a written statement.

The utility attributed the power outages to heavy, wet snow causing trees to collapse and fall onto power lines and poles.

"We were extremely well-prepared for this event," said Tim Martin, vice president of operations and construction. "Pre-planning helped us restore service to nearly 50 percent of our members within 24 hours of the peak of the storm."

The Virginia Department of Transportation's Staunton office described all interstate and primary roads as clear by 4:30 a.m. VDOT reported all bridges and ramps in Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties as clear by early afternoon with lingering patches of ice on secondary roads.

Sandy Myers, communications manger for VDOT's Staunton office, said temperatures were warm enough to prevent ice from forming on roads after the storm.

"We were just very pleased we were able to get the roads clear as soon as we did," Myers said. "The temperatures helped, of course."

Chief Richard E. Mabie of Warren County Fire and Rescue Services said his agency was busy responding to "quite a few calls" about trees and limbs falling on power lines. The high volume of calls during the storm was expected, he said.

Mabie said firefighters and EMTs also helped clear debris from roads.

"VDOT gets overwhelmed, and to help the citizens and to help ourselves, we go out and clear some roads," Mabie said.

State police reported receiving 3,118 calls for service from midnight Tuesday through 9 p.m. Wednesday, but the number had dropped to 25 as of 9:30 p.m. The state police Culpeper Division, which includes Warren, Shenandoah and Frederick counties, responded to 118 crashes, 137 disabled vehicles and 538 total calls for service.

The calls for service and disabled vehicle numbers were the second highest among the agency's seven statewide divisions.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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