Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TOP STORY >> Emergency crews work to the limit in blizzard

Drivers attempt to drive down Kiehl Avenue in Sherwood Monday.

Leader staff writer

So many cars were sliding into ditches in White County on Monday that emergency officials were looking to call other counties for help.

Tamara Jenkins, director of emergency services for White County, said every available police officer was busy with vehicles that had slid off the road in the snow and the wrecker services were so overworked there was talk of calling Cleburne County as backup.

Sylvia Smith of Smith Wrecker in Cabot said the calls for help started coming in about 2 a.m. Monday.

By 2 p.m. Tuesday, seven drivers working around the clock had towed about 40 vehicles and there were several calls that had not been handled.

The worst was a pickup truck that ran off the freeway between Cabot and Austin and landed tailgate down in a ditch full of water, she said.

The driver climbed to safety on a ladder brought by Cabot Fire Department.

To get all the vehicles back to their owners so they could go to work the next morning, Smith said drivers would likely have to work through the night again.

Billy Hall with Ivy Hall Wrecker said things had been “extremely busy” for the company since snow started to fall early Monday morning.

“We haven’t had many wrecks, but there’s been a lot of people sliding off into the ditch,” Hall said. “We’ve been working with very little sleep.”

Hall was happy to see the sun come out Tuesday afternoon. “That’ll help dry out the roads and lift some spirits,” he said, but still expected to be busy through today with the refreezing.
Dewayne James with Jacksonville Recovery and Wrecker called the last few days “just incredible.”

Besides pulling out cars that have slid off the roadway, James said his service was also pulling a lot of drivers out of their yards and driveways.

“Those mounds of snow have frozen and they are like concrete barriers and the vehicles can’t go over or through them,” James explained.

Kim Adams, owner of Adams Towing in Sherwood, said things got so busy he started to refer callers to other wrecker services.

“We told them it would be three to four hours, but other services were telling them it would be six to eight hours. It has just been awfully busy, nonstop,” Adams said.

One of the cars James pulled out was under a collapsed carport.

Adams said calls were slacking off late Tuesday, but expected to be nonstop again this morning.
Gene’s Inc., which runs three wreckers in the Beebe area, pulled more than 20 cars and trucks out of ditches on Monday and Tuesday.

Most area schools will be closed today.

(Staff writer Rick Kron also contributed to this article.)