Recovering from blizzard
Traffic picked up a bit Monday but many roads remained slippery and enveloped by snowdrifts as the paralysis from the weekend blizzard began to lift slowly around the region.
Police, fire and rescue services remained on alert, although there were no traffic crashes, fires or other incidents involving storm-related fatalities or serious injuries.
Gary Yew, chief of Shenandoah County’s Department of Fire and Rescue, said the emergency operations center set in place by noon on Friday worked “extremely well” in coordinating the activities of law enforcement and fire and rescue crews until it was closed at 9 p.m. Saturday.
First responders received help from the Virginia Department of Transportation, which contributed road crews and snow removal equipment to help on calls that required travel through drifting snow, Yew said.
“Everybody was extremely cooperative,” Yew said. “We were really pleased with how the event unfolded and the management of the event.”
Yew said there were 102 fire and EMS dispatches in Shenandoah County during the time the center was open. None of the calls constituted what Yew called a major incident, although officials are still trying to determine whether the death of one man in Fort Valley was related to snow removal.
Virginia State Police said in a written statement that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed six storm-related deaths throughout the state as a result of the storm.
One death in Chesapeake was a traffic fatality. The other five – in Hampton and the counties of Wise, Charles City, Gloucester and Henry – were listed as hypothermia related.
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office said preliminary numbers showed his agency responded to 21 calls from noon Sunday until midnight that night. The calls, which included one vehicle crash and several arrests from other incidents, were in addition to 84 service calls from noon Friday until noon Sunday.
Proctor said many secondary roads are partially covered with snow and high mounds of plowed or drifted snow that impede sight lines as drivers try to enter and leave roadways.
“The snow does get piled up, and it is not going to melt today,” Proctor said. “Use caution, be vigilant and look out for one another.”
Yew said public safety officials also remain concerned about snowbound driveways, business entrances and sidewalks that may continue to keep police, fire and ambulance crews from reaching people during emergencies long after the blizzard has passed.
“It creates a lot of extra challenges, but we’re making it work,” Yew said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org