7 p.m.: Live updates around town

January 28, 2014 

Homeless shelter full

Transitions, which provides services for homeless adults, reached its capacity Tuesday in its 255-bed housing units, director Craig Currey said.

The center, a public/private facility at Main Street and Elmwood Avenue, also has opened its climate-controlled Day Center throughout the night, Currey said in a statement. People admitted to the Day Center have access to showers and a hot meal.

New operations center ready to go

A dozen Lexington County leaders reviewed plans late Tuesday afternoon to cope with the storm and pronounced the county as ready as it can be.

"Everything we’re supposed to do to prepare is done," county administrator Joe Mergo said.

The storm will be the first test of a new emergency operations center that the county opened last fall to better coordinate response to storms and disasters.

The new center will provide county officials on-the-spot updates of conditions and the types of calls for help.

The new center is two miles west of Lexington.

Tim Flach

New shelters open in Batesburg-Leesville

Officials in Batesburg-Leesville are opening on the town court courtroom as an emergency shelter during the storm.

Plans also call for using the recreation center in the western Lexington County community as a second shelter if demand is heavy, assistant town manager Teddy Luckadoo said Tuesday.

Those coming to the shelter should bring pillows and other sleeping material along with snacks, he said.

Tim Flach

Garbage pickup changing

Richland County garbage haulers have reported sleet "coming in from the west," and were told Tuesday to get their trucks off the road, spokeswoman Beverly Harris reported.

Garbage pick-up has been cancelled for Wednesday and it’s looking “iffy” for Thursday, too.

Trash and recycling drop-off centers are closing shortly, Harris said.

In the city of Columbia, Public Works director Robert Anderson said a decision on whether to send crews out Thursday will be made late Wednesday.

In Lexington County, Wednesday pickups will be moved to Thursday, according to the county website, while Thursday and Friday pickups are expected to stay on schedule at this time.

Dawn Hinshaw, Clif LeBlanc, Tim Flach

Lexington County offices close early

Lexington County offices closed at 2 p.m., three hours earlier than usual.

The early closing of county offices came after all schools let students and staff leave by just after lunch.

Unlike neighboring Richland County, the 1,500 county employees came to work on time Tuesday while county leaders kept track of the forecast.

A decision on when or if offices will open Wednesday should be announced early that morning on the county website, www.lex-co.com.

Tim Flach

Stocking up on supplies

In Northeast Richland and other outlying areas, the pace was considerably slower in the mid-morning than it had been just the evening before at area grocery stores, gas stations and home improvement stores.

While some customers could still be found picking up last-minute grocery supplies, store workers, including one at the Bi-Lo on Decker Boulevard, said the biggest rush was definitely behind them.

Northeast resident Mary English was among the smaller wave of shoppers who came out Tuesday morning to pick up supplies before the expected afternoon snow.

“I worked yesterday,” English said, adding she had expected to find a smaller crowd in the grocery store Tuesday. “I figured everybody would come (on Monday).”

It was much the same at local gas stations with no noticeable backups in the lines.

The Lowes on Two Notch Road had a scattering of shoppers mid-morning Tuesday, as did the Home Depot in the Village of Sandhill. The village announced its closing at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

And while the inventory of portable heaters had taken a hit in recent weeks, store workers reported a recent run on such things as rock salt for driveways.

Bottled water has been a big-ticket item in some areas, including many of the communities around Lake Murray that rely on well and other electrical means of pumping their water.

Bertram Rantin

Columbia: ‘We are ready’

Columbia city government is prepared if winter socks the town with the predicted punch of rain, sleet and snow, the city manager said Tuesday as the front approached.

"We hope and pray that this is not a major weather event," Teresa Wilson said just before noon.

"I feel that we are ready for when the weather comes our way," she said at a news conference at Columbia’s emergency operations center on Lady Street.

Public Works employees have been preparing major corridors, the police department’s full traffic unit is on patrol and two warming stations opened Tuesday morning at city parks near Five Points and off North Main Street, representatives of the city’s executive management team said.

Other than the traffic units, police patrols will be as normal until the weather worsens, in which case back-ups are on call, interim chief Ruben Santiago said.

The only weather-related incident by 11:25 a.m. was a power outage along Beltline Boulevard caused by a fallen tree, said police Capt. Larry Johnson, who doubles as the city’s emergency operations coordinator.

The warming centers – which hold up to 600 people at Martin Luther King Park and 720 at Hyatt Park – have sleeping mats and will offer a few snacks and beverages. But people who need the facilities should bring enough food and drinks for themselves and their relatives, Wilson said.

The facility at King Park also will serve as an overflow center for homeless people if the city shelter’s 240 beds are filled. Uniformed officers will provide security at both parks, Wilson said.

A police officer will be assigned to monitor surveillance cameras that belong to Statewide Security Systems and are positioned around Columbia’s entertainment districts, Santiago said. Those cameras will help the city keep abreast of where traffic tie-ups occur along major corridors. Statewide Security owner Carey Shealy on Tuesday morning offered the use of the camera system, the interim chief said.

Clif LeBlanc

Owens Field prepping runway at 1 p.m.

The runway at Richland County-owned Owens Field will be closed at 1 p.m. for about an hour so the runway can be treated with an anti-icing agent, director Chris Eversmann said.

Beyond that, the airport will remain open until the accumulation of snow and ice makes it unsafe, he said.

Eversmann said there’s only been one departure Tuesday, about 8:45 a.m.

"It’s definitely a slow day today, and folks are kinda hunkered down in anticipation of the weather," he said.

Dawn Hinshaw

In Irmo: ‘Preparing for the worst’

Irmo’s six parks workers handled routine maintenance like picking up leaves and trash amid preparing to pitch in on storm cleanup if needed.

"We’re doing things we do on a regular basis — nothing has happened yet," town public services director Whit Cline said. "But we’re preparing for the worst."

His staff will handle chores like removing trees that might fall in the storm but leaves snow removal to state and county officials.

Tim Flach

Columbia mayor: Stay close to home

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin reminded residents that 911 should be reserved for emergencies only during the winter weather.

The Columbia-Richland 9-1-1 Communications Center is prepared for an increased volume of emergency calls, a press release from the mayor’s office said.

For non-emergency calls for service, residents are encouraged to call (803) 252-2911.

Benjamin also urged residents to use caution.

“Given the current forecast for inclement weather, I want to encourage everyone to stay off the roads and close to home unless absolutely necessary over the next couple of days,” Benjamin said in the release. “Snow, sleet and freezing rain can cause all manner of havoc from bursting pipes and down power lines to cars losing control because of black ice. So let’s do everything we can to stay warm, stay save and, if you must drive, take your time and be careful.”

Cassie Cope

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