Originally created 01/05/02

Augusta thaws out from cover of snow



It was a time to thaw out, access plans and get ready for another approaching storm.

On Friday morning, Columbia County's Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said road conditions in her county had improved greatly since a snowstorm dumped as much as 4 1/2 inches of snow and ice there.

"We're getting out of the woods with it today as far as there being only a few icy spots still remaining," she said.

In Richmond County, Dave Dlugolenski, the county's Emergency Management Agency director, said the same was true for Augusta.

"I haven't heard of anything in terms of bad roads," he said Friday.

Officials in Columbia County took the day to look back on their performance during the storm - which Mrs. Tucker referred to as a "textbook operation" - and to gear up for more precipitation Sunday.

"We're out of this one and now looking to see if we have another one coming up," she said. "If it happens, everything is restocked and we're ready to go again."

The forecast for Sunday is for rain beginning in the morning hours with lows in the low 30s and highs in the mid 50s. Jeff Barlow, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Columbia, said residents in Augusta should expect to see only rain from a front now moving in from the West.

"This storm is a much further north-tracking storm than this past one," he said. "So, the cold air is just really not going to get down into the storm."

Still, Mrs. Tucker said officials will be prepared just in case.

"You just never know," she said, adding that the main concern would be possible icing of roads and trees before dawn Sunday. "A few degrees in temperature or a slight shift in a storm can make all the difference."

Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, Mrs. Tucker said, 8,500 pounds of salt was used on roads in her county. She said the total cost to the county with personnel and equipment was $22,000. Mr. Dlugolenski said he wouldn't have such figures for Richmond County until next week.

"We're very pleased with everything," Mrs. Tucker said. "The only thing we might do differently next time is just to have a widespread (notification) system, not just one line where all employees are trying to call and getting a busy signal."

Columbia County's Roads and Bridges Department is now breathing easier and gearing up for the weekend. To prepare, Assistant Superintendent Tim Holloway said 500 additional pounds of salt was ordered and there are plans to have a crew on call over the weekend.

"We may have some bad weather later on," Mr. Holloway said. "But if it does reappear on Sunday, we'll be ready to go again."

Reach Preston Sparks or Louie Villalobos at (706) 868-1222 or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.