- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Charles County’s first bad weather of winter started Sunday, and the second followed quickly Tuesday.
“We prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said Tuesday around noon.
Robinson said the best is “exactly what we got,” when it came to dodging heavy amounts of snow and freezing temperatures Tuesday.
Freezing rain and sleet kept county road crews and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative employees busy Sunday and Monday.
SMECO spokesman Tom Dennison said there were more than 5,000 without power in Charles County at some point Monday, including 12 of 35 public schools.
The public school system opened two hours late Monday, and the uncertainty about when or if power would be restored aided in the decision to close schools 90 minutes early that day.
School system spokeswoman Katie O’Malley-Simpson said the school system’s central office, the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, two system annexes and the maintenance shop also were without power.
Schools were closed Tuesday, and the Charles County Board of Education did not hold its regularly scheduled meeting. The county commissioners canceled their Tuesday meeting as well.
Firefighters across the county and law enforcement at various times have urged people not to be out on the roads if they could help it.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office assigns officers to strategic locations in the county to wait for emergency calls during weather events, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Diane Richardson said.
From Sunday morning to Monday morning, the sheriff’s office estimated officers responded to 37 car accidents, 12 with injuries, including a Newburg Volunteer Fire Department truck that overturned on its way to a crash Sunday afternoon.
There were about five weather-related accidents Tuesday morning, none with injuries, Richardson said.
She said those accidents happened early in the morning, and by 11 a.m. it appeared many people were staying off the roads.
Staying on the roads were those whose job it is to keep them safe.
The county government reported that 15 county trucks were out by 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, and 25 contractors were put in service by 6 a.m., salting and clearing roads.
By 8:30 a.m. some roads were covered in snow, and an additional 20 trucks were called in to treat priority roads, hills and bridges.
Robinson said preparing for the worst when it comes to weather is especially true with road crews.
“You have to prepare because it’s impossible to play catch-up with snow removal,” he said.
Dennison said by Monday evening the vast majority of power outages were restored and SMECO was fully staffed and ready for Tuesday.
He said service workers were prepared around the county to respond to emergencies “at a moment’s notice.”
Robinson said the above-freezing temperatures Tuesday were the county’s friend as a change of one or two degrees would have resulted in more of an icy situation.
Charles County government opened on time Tuesday with its liberal leave policy in effect.