Recovery from Winter Storm Pax continues

Erin Smith Staff writer

February 15, 2014

Twigs and tree limbs ripped down by Mother Nature have created a mess in many yards and along roadways as folks in Bladen County continue to recover from Winter Storm Pax.

Bladen County is reported to have received snow accumulations of between 5 and 6 inches, along with one-quarter inch of ice last week, according to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington.

The storm also created power outages across the county.

“We’ve still got some sporadic power outages in town,” said Bladenboro Mayor Rufus Duckworth on Friday.

He said those consisted mainly of a tree or tree limbs laying over on power lines.

Duckworth added that, during the height of the storm on Tuesday, a large area of town was without power for about a day. Things were slowly returning to normal in Bladenboro on Friday morning as power returned and businesses were able to open to the public again. Duckworth said the town hall is also operating on a regular schedule.

Elizabethtown Public Works Director Pat DeVane said that, though there were power outages in town and the power outages did affect the wells and lift stations on Thursday, by the end of the day, power was restored and things were back operating normally.

DeVane said the majority of the town’s lift stations and wells have a generator backup, but a few of the smaller lift stations do not. DeVane said the town does own a small portable generator that can be transported to those stations and the stations pumped down.

“We didn’t have any sewer spills,” said DeVane.

He said sidewalks were salted before and after the storm and town employees did some shoveling of troublesome spots.

He added that tree limbs down on power lines were a problem and those issues were being adressed on Friday. DeVane said overall, the town was good shape and everything was operating on a normal schedule Friday.

Among the businesses that closed during the storm, Food Lion in Elizabettown encountered further problems. Despite being closed to the public, it’s electric-operated front doors remains open and would not close. A generator was reportedly brought in to get the doors closed.

Because of the storm, Bladen County Schools officials, who had originally decided to close schools at noon on Tuesday, instead released students at 10 a.m. and remained closed through Friday. Bladen Community College also closed Tuesday through Friday.

An emergency shelter was opened at Elizabethtown Middle School on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and, other than necessary travel, motorists were being urged to stay off the roads. On Thursday at noon, three other shelters — at Bladenboro Middle School, Clarkton School of Discovery and the East Arcadia Fire Department — also opened. The shelter in East Arcadia was able to close at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Two of the remaining shelters — Bladenboro Middle School and Clarkton School of Discovery — soon encountered mechanical problems and had to close. Those who were seeking shelter in those locations were transferred to the shelter at the Elizabethtown Middle School.

There were also some minor fender-benders in the county and one Bladen County EMS ambulance slid into a ditch and rolled over on its side on Hwy. 41 near the Robeson County line, according to Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw.

At the height of the storm, Duke Energy was reporting about 3,405 customers in Bladen County were without power.

A statement on Four County’s website stated, that at the height of the storm there were reports of approximately 5,653 scattered power outages in Pender, Bladen, Duplin, Sampson and Columbus counties.

Pax was the second major snowstorm to sweep through Bladen County in 17 days. Winter Storm Leon blew through Jan. 28-29 and letf behind about 3 inches of snow and up to one-half inch of ice. In all, the two storms closed area schools for a total of eight days.