Area police and EMAs: 'Stay off the roads'
by Staff Reports
Jan 10, 2011 | 4985 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ronny Gann of Pell City clears snow off his neighborhood street, Savage Town Road.
Ronny Gann of Pell City clears snow off his neighborhood street, Savage Town Road.
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Police and emergency responders across St. Clair and Talladega counties are asking all drivers to remain off roads until further notice.

Patrice Payne, assistant director for the St. Clair County EMA, said the Alabama Department of Transportation issued an emergency road closure for Interstate 20 and 59, and all state highways in St. Clair County Monday morning.

Pell City closed all municipal roads, and Riverside town officials said only emergency vehicles should travel its road. Drivers are on their own if they attempt to travel Monday, officials say.

Payne said St. Clair County roads are not “officially closed,” but all county roads are impassible and people should refrain from any driving today.

She said there is only a small window when temperatures could reach above freezing Monday afternoon, but the precipitation could refreeze tonight, making travel treacherous.

Payne said the National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory until 6 p.m., Monday.

All schools in St. Clair County are closed Monday. All county offices are closed and only essential county personnel are working, Payne said.

Pell City School Assistant Superintendent Michael Barber said Pell City schools will remain closed until roads become passable and It's safe for school buses to travel.

“I’m not sure when that will be,” Barber said. “We’re sort of taking a wait-and-see approach.”

He said school officials are closely monitoring the situation and will try to keep parents informed through their Teleparent communication system and through the media.

Precipitation began in St. Clair County with sleet, but eventually turned to snow Sunday night. By 10 p.m., 3 inches of snow was reported in some areas of St. Clair County.

All Talladega city and county schools are closed Monday.

The Talladega County courthouse is closed.

In Sylacauga, police Capt. Chris Carden said multiple traffic accidents were reported Monday morning, but none with severe injuries or damage related to the weather.

Carden said the Police Department recommended that people stay at home and not take chances driving.

“The roads in and around Sylacauga are still icy in spots,” Carden said. “We should expect the same kind of weather we received last night throughout the day and into tomorrow morning. We are asking citizens do not drive unless absolutely necessary, and if they do drive they do so extremely cautiously.”

The city of Sylacauga reported Monday the weather kept Veolia garbage trucks from running at their scheduled times. Garbage would be picked up Tuesday weather permitting, and would run a day late for the remainder of the week.

Pete Storey, Childersburg Chamber of Commerce president, said the Childersburg chamber will be closed all day Monday.

Childersburg Mayor B.J. Meeks reportedly is in Arizona for the college football championship game between Auburn and Oregon. He did not answer his cell phone Monday, and no one answered at Childersburg City Hall. At the Childersburg Police Department, they said they guessed City Hall was closed, but confirmed that the Police Department is open.

The Alabama State Troopers declared all roads throughout the area to be impassable Sunday night, and urged drivers to stay off all roads.

This morning, Troopers spokesman Chad Joiner reported that roads in southern Talladega County are passable — but he urged drivers to use the utmost caution if they do have to drive.

"Roads down here are pretty much fine," Joiner said, speaking by phone from Sylacauga. "But we're still asking people to be very careful."

Joiner noted that Alabama 76 between Childersburg and Winterboro was still icy.

Joiner said there were 30 wrecks between 5 p.m. Sunday and 3 a.m. Monday in the area covered by the Jacksonville trooper post — an eight-county swath from DeKalb to Talladega counties. None of those crashes produced injuries, Joiner said, and all were caused by "just slipping and sliding" on icy roads.

I-20 has been closed, Joiner reported.

Joiner noted that under a principle known as "reasonable and prudent speeding," troopers can ticket drivers who are traveling at a speed that is unsafe for icy conditions — even if the drivers are still under the speed limit. He said troopers had already written several tickets in southern Talladega County.

David Atchison, Matt Quillen, Lindsey Holland and the Consolidated News Service contributed to this report.
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