McDowell County prepares for strong winter storm


    McDowell County hasn’t had the most pleasant weather at times in 2018, to put it lightly.

    Remnants from multiple tropical cyclones brought rounds of flooding and mudslides, and more recently, freezing rain brought down trees as ice collected on elevated surfaces.

    Now, emergency managers are preparing for snow, and a lot of it. The county initiated their winter storm protocol on Wednesday.

    William Kehler is the emergency services director for McDowell County.

    “We are expecting a significant amount of heavy snow which we know can cause significant travel impacts and potential for long power outages,” Kehler said.

    Emergency management is asking people to be ready to be self-sustainable for at least 72 hours.

    “With this type of snowfall and the amount there may be, rural parts of our county may be in accessible. 12 to 18 in of snow is going to cause significant impacts to primary roads, much less the far remote areas in our county.”

    The county emergency operations center is stocked with extra water, generators, trailers, medical supplies and even UTVs to help get around in the snow.

    The county is pre-positioning some of their assets to help with response times if the snow is heavy, according to Adrienne Jones, deputy director of EMS for McDowell County.

    “We work every snowstorm, to strategically place ambulances and quick response vehicles, which are essentially SUVs, strategically around the county to access patients in the event of an emergency,” Jones said. “We also coordinate with the rescue squad with UTVs and four-wheelers, things like that.”

    The county is also supplying two emergency shelters in case they are needed but will wait until the forecast is more clear to make a decision to open them.

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