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Monday, May 2, 2016

Old Man Winter takes aim at area

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Arkansas State Highway Department snow plow turned over at Sidney Jan. 29 while clearing the highways. The driver was not injured in the accident. Photo/Tammy Curtis
Old Man Winter came for a visit and brought with him lots of snow. Just over a year ago, the area was sitting in cold darkness with over 3-inches of ice and massive damage that won't soon be forgotten. The snowstorm, played second fiddle to the 2009 storm.

Although the Jan. 29 and 30 storm dumped up to 12-inches of snow on the area, for the most part, power loss and property damage wasn't a huge problem. Without a doubt, many were beginning to wonder if this type of weather was going to become an annual event. The massive storm brought with its white blanket many other problems for area residents and undoubtedly added some money to the local economy in the way of wrecker calls and the infamous chili and hot cocoa fixings at local grocery stores.

Jan. 29 traffic was at a near standstill and both the county and state highway departments could not clear the roads fast enough. As soon as a snow plow finished a road, the path it had cleared was barely visible as snow continued to fall steadily all day Friday and Friday night into Saturday morning. Law enforcement, wrecker services and first responders and Spring River Ambulance Service worked around the clock to help those in need, mostly with medical and hazard calls from disabled vehicles who had slipped off in a ditch or merely couldn't make it up a hill.

This tractor trailer truck was stranded along Highway 167 Jan. 27 near Evening Shade for two days after running the back wheel off the highway. Photo/Tammy Curtis
Many underestimated the snow as the inches increased steadily Friday, turning cars into plows as they dragged the top of snow and were virtually immobile.

A highway department snow plow turned over on its side Friday morning near Sidney as numerous tractor trailer rigs were stranded or off the road near Evening Shade and Martin Creek. One semi near Evening Shade went off the road around noon on Friday and despite the large wrecker coming from Ravenden to rescue it from potentially flipping over, it was clear it would take more than one of these massive tow trucks to help this man. The truck driver eventually ran out of fuel and his truck was still on the highway Saturday night. At one point on Friday night, the road near Martin Creek, was disabled by numerous vehicles and even a grader being off in the ditch and others blocking traffic in the road.

The Spring River Ambulance crew at one time Friday morning had two of their ambulances in the ditch and one stuck in the parking lot at The Pines in Cherokee Village. Rescuing those in need of medical assistance became a big issue on back roads as well as in Cherokee Village. Cherokee Village Police Officer Richie Thatcher assisted with a medical call in Cherokee Village and also got in a ditch. In many cases, first responders with four-wheel-drive vehicles had to go down the back roads and pick up the patients and take them to meet the ambulances.

As the weekend progressed the ditches of the county could be seen littered with vehicles that seemed to be abandoned, but more likely were waiting on the thaw before attempting to remove them from the icy ditches. Because the snow was so deep, those who were unfortunate enough to have slid off the road may have had a more cushioned landing than those in the ice storm of 2009. As the sun appeared Sunday, the white mess began to slowly thaw bringing with it a refreeze on Sunday night that once again left state roads slick, even in cleared areas Monday morning. Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said he had spoken with Cherokee Village Police Chief Ricky Crook Monday and said he commended the Cherokee Village Road Department on the wonderful job they had done in clearing the roads in the city.

Overall, considering there were no injuries reported to the Sharp County Sheriff's Department, the massive snowfall gave area residents some welcome time in for the weekend and if nothing else, got to spend some fun time playing in the snow with their family and friends.

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