Submitted by Thurston County Board of Commissioners
Thurston County Public Works crews were responding 24-hours a day during the weekend to ensure primary roads were safe to travel and services were available after the area was blanketed with snow. The crews will continue to plow roads and apply an anti-icing solution to keep ice from sticking to surfaces.
Since Friday morning, trucks have laid more than 50-thousand gallons of anti-icing solution and 300 tons of sand on county roads. Crews have also cleared more than 20 downed trees over roadways and assisted residents with contacting Puget Sound Energy to report downed power lines and outages. Crews were able to reach secondary roads on Sunday afternoon, before doubling efforts to keep primary roads clear after snow started falling again yesterday evening.
“We focused on plowing and keeping ice from sticking with anti-icing solution on our primary roadways over the weekend. As we move into this week, we will likely be sanding more roads to keep up with the weather,” said Lucy Mills, Thurston County Public Works Roads Division Manager
Public Works offices have been running expanded operations since Friday, including 24-hour schedules for county road crews and traffic operations. A fleet of plows, anti-icing trucks and graders have been out on county roads since before the first storm late last week, laying anti-icing agent and gearing up for the extreme weather. County utility and solid waste crews also worked through the weekend, helping support County services for residents.
“We’re so proud of the way our employees have handled the challenging weather. From roads to solid waste, crews are doing everything they can ensure services are up and running,” said Jennifer Walker, Thurston County Public Works Director.
Due to the efforts of public works crews, there were no interruptions to service for water and wastewater utility customers despite area power outages. Additionally, solid waste crews worked through the weekend at the Waste and Recovery Center to ensure the facility was open by 8:00 a.m. this morning.
County road crews will continue 24-hour operations this week as additional snow accumulations are expected through Wednesday. Information about roads, including up-to-date information about road closures, snow and ice removal maps, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the Thurston County Public Works Winter and Storm Response website. The Public Works Department also provides real-time information about roads on twitter @Thurston_PW.
When faced with significant snow events, Thurston County Public Works follows a prioritized system for clearing roads. Primary roads providing access to state highways and critical facilities such as hospitals and fire stations are cleared first including Old Highway 99, Littlerock Road, Martin Way, Yelm Highway and others. Secondary connecting roads are cleared next. After priority and secondary routes are cleared, crews address residential routes. Crews do not routinely plow subdivisions or driveways.
Thurston County Emergency Operations Center
The Thurston County Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) activated to a level 2 enhanced operation at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 9, 2019 in response to the snow and cold weather that impacted the area over the weekend. Level 2 activation means additional staff were brought on duty to coordinate the response to the event.
During the activation, the ECC:
- Provided situational awareness between the jurisdictions and County departments and offices
- Coordinated with the American Red Cross to open a shelter at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 114 20th Avenue SE, Olympia 98501 at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 10.
- Coordinated Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteers to assist in emergent medical transports. Today, Monday, February 11, and potentially tomorrow, Tuesday, February 12, SAR will be working with the Auditor’s Office to assist with ballot box collections.
- Provided support to Public Works for road clearance operations.
- Provided public information, primarily through social media due to a power outage, resulting in the outage of the Thurston County website.
The ECC staff will be participating in a call this afternoon to assess the current conditions, and determine if the activation needs to continue and at what level.
Featured photo credit: Cathy Mah