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Officials, shelter prepare for wintry conditions

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
With snow and ice expected throughout Rowan, emergency officials recommend residents stay indoors and caution against travel.
Because some in Rowan don’t have homes, the Rowan Helping Ministries night shelter will be open 24 hours a day for the rest of the week.
Emergency officials expected icy precipitation early today, but conditions don’t appear to be bad enough to require officials to open up emergency shelters.
“We are prepared for that, but not at this point. We do not anticipate having to open shelters,” Frank Thomason, Rowan County emergency services director.
There are shelters identified, but none are open now.
“We have our local Red Cross staff, who is responsible for opening shelters, on standby,” he said.
Shelter locations depend upon the number of outages and the location.
Thomason advised residents to look in on elderly or aged family members and neighbors during this cold spell.
He recommended people who have older family, especially those who live alone, check on relatives several times a day.
“Even neighbors — neighbors should check on neighbors,” Thomason said.
He said this weather is unlike the ice event in 2002.
“That was an ice event with little to no snow. That ice accumulated on powerlines and utility lines and on trees. This is no where in the realm of what we experienced then,” Thomason said.
He said what’s on the roads now will continue to freeze overnight.
“There will be sleet and rain mix overnight and the roads are expected to be treacherous Tuesday morning,” Thomason said.
Rowan Helping Ministries shelter will be open 24 hours a day this week because of the weather said Executive Director Kyna Foster.
“We will have the shelter open 24/7 all week in response to this cold snap and the fact that it’s wet outside,” Foster said.
The overnight shelter is normally open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. During extreme temperatures, hours are adjusted.
Normally the shelter averages about 40-42 people and late Sunday the shelter had 44 guests.
“It’s been consistently higher all winter,” Foster said.
Foster noted there are shelter guests who had previously been in the shelter that have returned because of the cold weather.
The soup kitchen is open to anyone at noon and only to shelter guests during breakfast and dinner.
Foster said Rowan Helping Ministries have very dedicated volunteers and staff who braved the weather to help.
“We appreciate the volunteers who are helping us through this bad weather,” Foster said.
“The combination of more snow, freezing rain and ice could bring trees down and cause significant power outages,” said state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell. “The utility companies are being very responsive, but folks should be prepared with alternate heating source in case they lose power.”
The N.C. Division of Emergency Management recommends the following tips:
• Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
• Do not use charcoal grills or generators indoors.
• Turn off electrical appliances that were on when the power went off to avoid a power surge when the electricity is restored.
• Use flashlights. Do not use candles; they greatly increase the chance of having a fire in your home.
• Limit your activities to no more than two rooms and close off unneeded rooms.
• Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors and cover windows at night to keep cold air out and warm air in.
• If you have well water, fill up tubs and buckets with water so if the power goes out you still have water.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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