Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

December 22, 2013

Local officials view ice storm emergency response as positive

(Continued)

Mineral Wells Director of Public Works Kelly Jones said city crews mainly spent the weekend sanding roads around town to provide drivers with some traction on the slick ice. Later, city crews also cleared some streets with blades.

But one of the biggest helps to the city, according to Howerton, was that people for the most part stayed indoors and didn’t try to venture out in their cars. This drastically limited the number of wrecks the Mineral Wells Police Department had to respond to, helping expedite the process of clearing roads.

“I think everyone recognized this was kind of an unusual circumstance and tried to stay in and use good judgement, which always helps too,” Howerton said. “People were aware of how severe the conditions were.”

Mineral Wells was also fortunate to not have to deal with many power outage issues over that weekend. Oncor Electric Area Manager Ken Harris told the Index the bulk of the region’s electrical issues were in the Metroplex and that Mineral Wells was “very lucky” to avoid any blackouts.

Harris said one of the biggest factors that allowed the company to avoid power issues in Mineral Wells was all the tree trimming that was done during the last freeze between Nov. 22 and 25.

After that early icing, Harris explained to the Index that when trees limbs get weighed down by ice, they can effect power lines, leading Oncor to employ extra crews specifically for tree trimming.

“Any [tree trimming] we did previously definitely helped this time,” he said. “All in all, we were very lucky.”

At the county level, Palo Pinto County Fire Marshal and Director of Emergency Management Buddy Harwell said their response effort was good, but complicated by issues with TxDOT.

“Really, the only bad thing was we just couldn’t get around,” he said. “On most of our roads, to get anywhere you have to go up or down a major hill. TxDOT wasn’t able to get out here to get the bridges and some of these hills (cleared). So, those were obstacles that we had to overcome.”

Harwell said he spent most of the weekend helping people that were stuck along Interstate 20. He said the National Weather Service’s under-estimation of how bad the storm would be, coupled with TxDOT’s failure to pre-treat and sand major highways before the ice came meant his office had to fight an uphill battle.  Harwell said they struggled to get stranded people to safety and transport emergency medical calls to and from the hospital.

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