Local area hit by severe cold

Published 10:53 am Tuesday, January 7, 2014

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / The plunging temperatures led to a frozen fountain at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Monday. Monday's low was 12 degrees, and the temperature was still reported at 13 degrees at 7:30 Tuesday morning.

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / The plunging temperatures led to a frozen fountain at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Monday. Monday’s low was 12 degrees, and the temperature was still reported at 13 degrees at 7:30 Tuesday morning.

Local temperatures plunged as low as 12 degrees Monday night, as a hard freeze warning tightened its hold over the Lincoln County area and much of the U.S.

The hard freeze warning, which was initiated Sunday evening and continued until noon today, was issued by the National Weather Service in Jackson due to the extreme sub-freezing temperatures and the prolonged period of time that temperatures were not expected to rise above freezing.

Some residences in the Lincoln County experienced short periods of power outage as workers with Entergy faced equipment problems Monday night.

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“Residents from Highway 84 West all the way to the Franklin County line may have experienced brief moments of power outage, periodically throughout the night,” said Kenny Goza of Entergy in Brookhaven.

“We are working on things this morning and plan to have it all wrapped up soon,” Goza said Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey cautioned residents to follow safety protocols when trying to stay warm. Church representatives also offered their own suggestions during these cold times.

While Brookhaven and Lincoln County schools and Brookhaven Academy opened at their usual time, some area schools – those in Lawrence County and Franklin County delayed the start of school until later in the morning to alleviate travel when roads still might be icy from frozen wet spots.

Franklin and Lawrence county schools announced they would return to their regular schedules Wednesday.

Lows are forecast to drop to 15 to 20 degrees again tonight, but a warming trend is expected to arrive Wednesday when highs should clime into the upper 40s. Wednesday night’s lows are forecast to drop into the lower 30s.

Some tips to keep in mind during the extremely cold weather include the following:

• Bring pets indoors.

• Allow faucets to drip or run in a trickle to prevent burst pipes.

• Close off unneeded rooms.

• Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.

• Close blinds or cover windows with blankets at night.

• Be sure to have a smoke detector installed.

• Never leave lit candles or other flames unattended.

Many people will be using space heaters during the hard freeze. If so, be sure to:

• Keep the space heater three feet away from anything that may catch on fire-including drapes, furniture or bedding.

• Never cover the space heater.

• Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.

• Never leave children unattended near a space heater.

• Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater

Since shelters, such as the soon to be opened FEMA 361 building on Industrial Park Road, are designed to provide safe haven for people in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster, assistance during weather extremes often falls on churches in the area.

Judith Smith of Faith Presbyterian Church says church deacons have a list of elderly, or “shut-in” residents that they are personally responsible for during a crisis such as a hard freeze.

“Each deacon ensures that the persons on their list have power and heat. The deacons primarily deal with people who cannot leave their home. It is the duty of the deacon to ensure their well-being,” Smith said.

Floretta Williams, food pantry director for the Greater Hope Foundation, says that her church isn’t equipped to provide shelter to those who might need it during unusually cold days of the year.

“We don’t have the resources. But we do as much as we can for what we have,” said Williams.

As an alternative, Williams says the foundation provides quilts and blankets to those in need, such as the elderly and/or the handicapped, on a per person basis.

Smith encourages persons who know of someone in potential jeopardy to contact their local church for assistance.

“The truth of the matter is, we don’t have many days like this a year. However, help of some kind is usual available at churches in the area,” Smith said.

The national weather service in Jackson issued the hard freeze warning for Lincoln County Sunday night. The warning will be in effect until noon Tuesday.

Lows Monday night were predicted to be near 15 degrees in the local area with north winds of 5 to 10 miles per hour. Tuesday’s temperatures are predicted only to reach the mid-30s with lows again Tuesday night in the 15-to-20 degree range.