Breckenridge Texan

Community leaders continue to prepare for winter storm

Community leaders continue to prepare for winter storm
February 13
14:30 2021

By Carla McKeown and Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County leaders continued on Saturday, Feb. 13, to prepare for the upcoming winter storm, discussing options in case the county or sections of the county lose electric power.

County Judge Michael Roach said that Texas is expecting a record demand on the power grid in the next few days as temperatures are expected to drop down to single digits with a windchill factor making it feel like it’s below zero. Although Texas emergency management personnel think the power grid can withstand the expected level of usage, rolling blackouts are possible. Additionally, Roach said, ice on the power lines, along with high winds, could cause power outages on a local level.

“When it’s 16 degrees or zero degrees and you have a windchill of minus 15 or minus 18, the temperature in a home can drop drastically. That is why we will look to those shelters that we’ve talked about, the three stages of those,” Roach said. (Click here to read the Breckenridge Texan’s Feb. 12 article about the three-stage emergency plan.)  “And if we need those, we’ll have to deploy those in a pretty rapid timeframe. If all else fails, if we lose power throughout (the community), there are some electric generators to keep a couple of main buildings heated, and there’s limited space there. I’m working on a contingency plan for another building and trying to get the generators together for that; maybe we can generate some heat and hold some folks for a very short period of time.”

Several churches and one of the Breckenridge Independent School District’s gyms may be used as “warming centers” or temporary shelters to help keep local residents warm.

(Click graphic to enlarge.)

In the case of power outages, local residents will be informed of places they can go for shelter via reports on the Breckenridge Texan and KLXK 93.5-FM radio, as long as both have access to electricity or battery back-up. Additionally, the CodeRed system will be used to notify citizens of where they can go for help. CodeRed is used to inform those who are signed up for the service of impending storms and other emergency situations. Click here to register to receive a CodeRed phone call in case of local emergencies.

The National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning is already in place for much of Texas, and the forecast shows that  Stephens County could receive 4 to 8 inches of snow, starting mostly after noon on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Roach said many local churches have canceled their Sunday morning services, and some that are planning to have services are also offering them online so that their parishioners can stay at home, if they’d like to. If the roads are dangerous, travel is discouraged.

Roach said if the power goes out, all local emergency responders will be available to help with the situation. Additionally, several groups of volunteers have been organized to assist.

Local residents are encouraged to check on their neighbors, friends, family members and others who may be vulnerable to the extreme cold. If someone needs assistance, call the Breckenridge Police Department’s non-emergency number, 254-559-2211, and talk to the dispatcher. Someone will go out and assess the situation and arrange for help, as needed. If there is an emergency situation, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Emergency Preparedness

If there’s a power outage during this winter storm, and you plan to stay at home, make sure you have some necessary items on hand to help you stay safe.

Create a home emergency kit with the following items:

  • Extra blankets, coats, sweaters, gloves, socks, etc.
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Portable cell phone charger
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Food that doesn’t have to be cooked, such as peanut butter, jelly, bread, crackers, cheese, fruit, canned meat such as tuna or chicken, dried meat such as beef jerky, nuts, granola, protein bars, pudding or fruit cups, canned drinks, bottled water, etc.

If you are traveling, make sure to have a similar kit in your vehicle. Additional items to include in your vehicle include a shovel, cat litter or sand to help with traction, tow chain or rope, booster cables, windshield scraper, hazard reflectors and emergency distress sign.

If you have pets outdoors, bring them inside, if possible. If a pet can’t be brought inside, provide adequate shelter and dry bedding, as well as a regular supply of unfrozen water.

Governor’s Disaster Declaration

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott  issued a disaster declaration in all 254 Texas counties in response to severe winter weather that is impacting the state, according to a news release. The governor is continuing to deploy state resources available to assist local officials in their response efforts and has ordered the Texas State Operations Center (SOC) to expand its daily operations to 24-hours a day through the end of next week.

“Texas should heed the guidance of their local leaders and stay alert to changing weather conditions in their area,” Abbott said. “These resources will help us respond to this severe winter weather and keep our communities safe. The State of Texas remains in close contact with officials on the ground and will provide any additional resources and support that are needed.”

At the direction of the governor, the Texas Division of Emergency Management has deployed the following state resources to support winter weather response operations:

  • Texas Department of Transportation: Winter weather roadway preparation equipment and response crews as well as road condition monitoring.
  • Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Department of Public Safety: Courtesy patrols to assist stranded motorists along major travel corridors.
  • Texas Military Department: Winter weather equipment and personnel to support Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Fort Worth, and Waco to assist in stranded motorist operations.
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: Four-wheel drive vehicles and personnel to assist with stranded motorists along major travel corridors.
  • Texas A&M Forest Service: Motor graders and personnel to assist with snow/ice clearance and saw crews to assist with removal of downed trees.
  • Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, Texas Task Force 1: Search and rescue equipment and teams.
  • Public Utility Commission of Texas: Monitoring and reporting of power outages and monitoring of any issues impacting the power generation capability in the state.
  • Texas Animal Health Commission: Response equipment and personnel to address livestock concerns due to frigid temperatures.

TxDOT offers winter travel tips

Although the Texas Department of Transportation has been treating roadways with a solution to try and prevent icy roads, a significant amount of freezing precipitation could still cause major problems for drivers.

TxDOT reminds motorists to follow these helpful tips when traveling in winter weather:

  • Give yourself time to reach your destination and account for possible travel delays. Have patience and share the road with other drivers.
  • Make sure every person has their seat belt buckled and that child passengers are secured properly in safety seats.
  • Drive with caution, reduce speed and increase travel distance between your vehicle and others on the road (at least three times the normal following distance). Do not apply brakes suddenly on slippery roads.
  • Turn off cruise control and lane assist in newer vehicles.
  • Use caution when driving over bridges and overpasses, as temperatures can be colder on elevated surfaces.
  • Slow down when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles, especially when their flashing lights are on. The law requires drivers to maintain a distance of at least 200 feet when approaching a snowplow, and never pass on the right. Visibility can also be reduced during winter weather conditions.
  • Winterize vehicles before travel in adverse conditions. Check fuel, tire, oil and antifreeze levels. Make sure brakes and windshield wipers are working properly.
  • If you don’t have to travel, stay home.
  • Weather can change quickly, so travelers are encouraged to check roadway conditions prior to travel.

TxDOT roadway conditions statewide are available at DriveTexas.org or by calling 1-800-452-9292. The Brownwood District Twitter feed (@TxDOTBWD) will be updated as road conditions change. Other TxDOT Twitter feeds and the TxDOT Facebook page are also valuable resources for travel conditions across the state.

(Click graphic to enlarge.)

 


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Announcement

BRUSH PICKUP The City of Breckenridge and Stephens County will be picking up brush with a woodchipper inside the corporate limits of Breckenridge the week of Oct. 18. Residents need to have brush that they would like chipped and hauled off at curbside by Friday, Oct. 15. For questions about the disposal, please call the City Offices at (254)559-8287.

CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT The Breckenridge Lions Club will host its second annual Scholarship Cornhole Tournament beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Trade Barn in the Breckenridge City Park. For more information click here.

ARTIST MEET-AND-GREET BRECKENRIDGE FINE ARTS CENTER The artistic quilts of Maynard Westlake are on exhibit at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center through Nov. 2. The BFAC will host an artist meet-and-greet for Westlake from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, at the BFAC, 207 N. Breckenridge Ave.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT The Breckenridge Police Department will host a local National Night Out event from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Law Enforcement Center, 210 E. Dyer St. National Night Out is an annual, national event that focuses on growing the partnership between law enforcement and the community in the fight against crime.

MEMORIAL BIKE RIDE The annual Sloan Everett Pure Country Pedal Memorial Bike Ride is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Breckenridge City Park. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will feature five routes. For more information, visit the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce’s website.

COMMUNITY-WIDE SIDEWALK AND GARAGE SALE The Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce is looking for garage sales and sidewalk sales to add to its list for the annual event on Saturday, Oct. 9. For more information, call 254-559-2301.

CREATION VS EVOLUTION PRESENTATION International speaker and author Jay Seegert will give a presentation, Creation vs Evolution, at the National Theatre, sponsored by St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. The event will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at the National Theater at 116 E. Walker St.

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