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Emergency officials prep for worsening conditions

The heavy, slushy snow that blanketed the area Friday morningcould become more of a problem as it collects on roads, trees andpower lines, officials said Friday.

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said hiscounty got about 4.5 inches of snow overnight and was looking atanother possible 3 to 4 inches before lunch time.

“If it gets above freezing today, it won’t be for long and it’sgoing to refreeze tonight,” he said. “It’s looking like travel isgoing to be hazardous.”

Copiah County Emergency Operations Coordinator Randle Drane saidCopiah County may have gotten around 3 inches of snow overnight,but that conditions were already somewhat hazardous, but that itwasn’t as bad as it could be.

“So far we’ve had eight to 10 wrecks, and we’ve helped several(emergency medical service) employees get to work, and pretty muchthat’s about it,” he said. “We’ve had a few limbs called in thatwere down on the road, too.”

Lawrence County Civil Defense Director Robert Patterson said hiscounty got 3 to 4 inches of snow overnight.

“It’s still coming down, but nobody’s in a ditch or nothing elseright now,” Patterson said. “Right now everything’s going good, Ireckon everybody’s staying in.”

And Franklin County woke up to about 5 inches of snow Fridaymorning, said Franklin County Civil Defense Director MarkThornton.

“We probably would have had about 7 inches but around 4 a.m. itchanged back to sleet and rain,” he said. “The roads are slushy andthe bridges are iced over, and MDOT is putting salt on themnow.”

Officials all reminded motorists to stay out of the weather andoff the roads unless there is an extreme emergency.

“Just like the bridges are really slick right now, MDOT and thecity and the county are out trying to take care of the majorbridges,” Galey said. “But if it refreezes tonight, it’ll makeblack ice, and then you can’t see it till it’s too late.”

Galey said Brookhaven city offices were closed Friday due to theweather and Lincoln County offices were considering closing atnoon.

Also, Bank of Brookhaven, Trustmark and State Bank were closingat 2 p.m., said Shannon Aker, Bank of Brookhaven vice president.There was no immediate word on other area banks’ plans.

Meanwhile, area power companies are preparing for worseconditions as Friday goes on, but while Entergy officials reportedno problems as of around 9:30 a.m. Friday, Magnolia and Southwestelectric power associations were reporting some outages.

Magnolia EPA Member Services Director Lucy Shell said as ofabout 8:30 a.m., there were 390 outages across the six-countyservice area, with about 240 in the extreme southern Lincoln Countycommunity of Norfield.

“All of Magnolia Electric Power Association’s employees reportedto work at 7 a.m. this morning,” she said. “There will beadditional contract crews added to the work schedule today toMagnolia Electric’s crews. Crews will be working across thesix-county system.”

Southwest EPA Public Relations Director Azalea Knight said about400 meters were out on their system in Lincoln County. She saidcrews have been dispatched to work on the outages, but that withsnow as heavy and wet as this weather front has brought, therecould potentially be other outages on the way.

“We’ve been working on those, and whittling them down,” shesaid. “But as the wind picks up and limbs pop back up, we may haveadditional outages later on.”

Meanwhile, both power company and emergency officials warnedpeople to stay away from downed power lines, and be careful withgenerators.

“If a power line is down, it doesn’t mean there’s no power on,just leave it alone and call the power company,” Galey said.

If a homeowner uses a generator to restore power to the house,Galey said, he or she needs to be sure the commercial power switchis off or it could potentially electrocute power company employeestrying to restore electricity.