By Bobbie Poynter
This year’s winter will surely be one for the record books, not only across the northern most states, but here in Knox County as well.
In response to the heavy snows and bitter cold across the Commonwealth Monday, Gov. Steve Beshear declared a statewide emergency to allow local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in public safety and recovery efforts.
Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hall, also declared a local state of emergency.
“This situation creates considerable hardships for the citizens of Knox County,” said Judge Hall in the declaration, “and local government has the responsibility to protect the public health, safety and welfare.”
“During Monday’s snowstorm, we had one crew out until 5 a.m. and another crew out working all night,” said Hall. “Because of the upcoming sub-zero temperatures, salt simply won’t work. So, we’re trying as hard as we can to get as much snow off the roads and make them passable between now and then.
“We were out there round the clock, but during Monday’s heavy snowfall, the snow came down so fast that no sooner did we clear a road, it was completely covered again,” said Robbie Cobb, Barbourville Street Department Manager. “But, we’ll stay out there till the job is done.”
In the next couple of days when the temperatures will only get up into the teens, officials are concerned that water pipes will freeze and people could end up without running water, not to mention the ever-present danger of a power outage.
However, Mayor David Thompson and Emergency Management feel they have already gotten ahead of that particular storm.
First of all, in the event of either a power outage or loss of water, residents are encouraged to call 911 and explain their circumstances.
Then, if need be, the Barbourville courthouse has been designated as an emergency shelter and will be open in the case of power outages. As an added backup, if the courthouse loses power, City Hall will be opened.
Also, Knox County school buses will be available in the event mass transportation to a shelter is needed.