Gearing Up for the Worst

ATHENS, GA – Here we go again. Another snow storm, but this time: ICE. Since it has the power to bring down power lines and snap trees, damages could be worse. This coming snowstorm means another job for the workers at the Athens-Clarke County Streets and Drains Department. They say they are prepared for this storm, just as they were last time.

Robert Blocker, a heavy equipment manager, says they are ready for whatever they need to do: clear trees, melt ice, etc. The department is equipped with eight working machines, one of which stays in a heated garage out of the cold. The two most important machines: The Gradall, used to clear fallen trees, and the Do-All, which spreads sand on the roads, are ready to go. They have three sand spreaders, and if the weather is bad enough, all of them will be out at one time. Blocker and others spent the day checking the machines to make sure everything is working properly.

Sand is piled high at the ACC Streets and Drains department, about 200,000 pounds of it. Blocker says last storm, he used about 100,000 pounds to de-ice roads. They are prepared to use all of it and more if needed. If they do end up needing more in the middle of the night, their supplier is on-call and just down the street.

Blocker and the superintendent of the department, Kevin Gentry, say their department is prepared for these emergencies. Gentry spent his morning in a National Weather Service meeting to watch the forecast. If needed, the department will switch to 12-hour shifts, to have personnel there at all times. Gentry says they may be starting that cycle tomorrow. Hall and Oconee counties are doing the same thing.

The workers, Blocker says, are just like emergency personnel: ready for anything at any moment. He says, preparing for events like this is all part of the job description.

We’ve all heard it but Gentry and Blocker both say to stay off the roads if there is ice or snow. If you see any wet or icy roads, report them to the department immediately (706-613-3465). Be safe and don’t try to mess with mother nature.

Alexa Knowles, reporting.



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