Richmond County digs out

By Matt Harrelson

February 14, 2014

Matt Harrelson

The snow is mostly in piles now and off of streets and the ice has all but melted away as Richmond County begins to return to normal.

According to The Weather Channel’s website, temperatures in Rockingham reached a high of 53 degrees around 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The higher temperatures along with a sunny day eliminated a lot of the ice and snow that had accumulated on roads. The nicer weather allowed crews from Pee Dee Electric and Duke Energy Progress to finish restoring power to nearly everyone in Richmond County. At its worst, the two utilities reported nearly 3,500 customers without power. As of 5 p.m. Friday, that number dwindled to 348 for Duke Energy Progress and zero for Pee Dee Electric.

Mike Strickler, with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, said that Richmond County overall received between four to six inches of snow and a quarter of an inch of ice during the storm. Rain tonight and into tomorrow will help melt a lot of what’s still left, said Strickler.

Messy roads and stuck cars didn’t keep people from venturing outside, especially to the local grocery stores.

Barry Whitesell, District Manager over five Food Kings including Rockingham and Ellerbe, said the Ellerbe location operated under the normal hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and saw a large influx of customers.

“It’s was almost double what we normally do on a Thursday,” said Whitesell. “We do around 800 customers on a Thursday and yesterday we did around 1,200. We were pretty overwhelmed.”

Whitesell also said the manager of the Rockingham Food King, Robert Williams, spent the night in a hotel in order to be able to serve customers during the inclement weather.

On Friday, however, all main roads and many secondary roads in Richmond County were clear of the wintry mix that began falling during Tuesday’s morning commute.

Holly Allen, spokesperson with North Carolina Department of Transportation, reported that 15 employees were used in Richmond County with 11 plow trucks, two graders and two contract trucks to help clear primary and secondary roads. Crews used 425 tons of salt help keep the streets passable, said Allen.

“They started on secondary roads yesterday (Thursday),” said Allen. “They should be finished up around 4 p.m. (Friday).”

Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly said his department responded to eight accidents, six property damages and two personal injuries due to the weather — none of which were serious or life threatening. In fact, the only weather-related fatality was reported to be a 53-year-old Rockingham man who died of a heart attack while sledding.

Inquires with the Hamlet Police Department and North Carolina Highway Patrol weren’t responded to before The Daily Journal went to press.