Icy roads keep Sumter law enforcement busy

By ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 1/5/18

Along with bright, fluffy snow, Winter Storm Grayson brought poor road conditions to the Sumter area, resulting in more than 200 calls for service for Sumter Police Department.

Sumter police responded to 44 stranded motorists and 71 motor vehicle …

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Icy roads keep Sumter law enforcement busy

Posted

Along with bright, fluffy snow, Winter Storm Grayson brought poor road conditions to the Sumter area, resulting in more than 200 calls for service for Sumter Police Department.

Sumter police responded to 44 stranded motorists and 71 motor vehicle incidents - including five hit-and-run incidents - between noon on Wednesday and noon on Thursday.

The department's telecommunicators answered more than 1,650 calls in total during the same 24-hour period.

Stay at home if you can, Tonyia McGirt, Sumter Police Department public information officer, said.

Some businesses will be open, but drivers should take their time on the road, she said.

Drive very slowly if you have to be on the roads, and leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you, McGirt said.

Parts of the road that are constantly shaded will have more ice than other portions of the road, she said.

Keep an eye on the ice while driving through any area of the city, and don't panic if you do slide - steer into the slide, she said. If the rear of the vehicle is sliding to the right, turn the wheel to the right; turn the wheel to the left if the rear of the vehicle is sliding to the left.

McGirt said officers are also checking in with residents - especially the elderly - to make sure they have what they need.

Out in the county, some Sumter County Sheriff's Office deputies were working outside of their normal operations by investigating wrecks alongside S.C. Highway Patrol.

Ken Bell, Sumter County Sheriff's Office public information officer, said deputies assisted in responding to wrecks - mostly fender-benders and vehicles sliding into ditches - because the state agency was overwhelmed with all of the activity on Wednesday evening.

Deputies normally don't work wreck investigations, but there were so many vehicles off the roadways they had to pitch in, he said.

Also, traffic on U.S. 378 was held up for about three hours because drivers could not get over a bridge that had iced over, Bell said. Traffic started to pick up again after S.C. Department of Transportation crews put down salt, he said.

Any bridge or overpass will become dangerous very quickly after dark when the melted ice and snow will freeze again, he said.

The sheriff's office only has its four-wheel-drive vehicles on the roads, he said.

Bell said even his vehicle began to slide on his way to work, but he was able to correct the vehicle because he was driving slowly.

Just because the roads look clear doesn't mean there is no ice, he said.

In case cellphone users are unable to reach Sumter's 911 Center - which receives emergency calls for all first-responder agencies - call Sumter Police Department's non-emergency number at (803) 436-2700 and Sumter County Sheriff's Office non-emergency number at (803) 436-2000.

Although the majority of snow and ice on the roads melted on Wednesday afternoon, freezing temperatures and cool breezes were expected to turn some roads into an interconnected ice rink.

The temperature on Thursday night was expected to reach 16 degrees Fahrenheit with winds between 6 and 10 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Today's temperature is anticipated to be near 40 degrees Fahrenheit - possibly causing more ice and snow to melt - with temperatures dropping below freezing again tonight.

EMERGENCY SHELTER

Sumter United Ministries' emergency shelter opens at 6 p.m. every night. The shelter normally closes at 7 a.m. but will remain open if temperatures are below freezing. Meals and beds are provided.

SERVICE DELAYS

- All city sanitation services scheduled for Thursday were cancelled and will resume on regular schedule next week. Today's routes will be picked up as normal.

- The U.S. Postal Service will attempt to deliver mail that was not delivered because of poor road conditions caused by the snow storm. Questions can be directed to call toll-free 1-800-275-8777.

FOOD STORAGE

- Keep a few days' worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling;

- Freeze water in plastic storage bags or containers small enough to fit inside a refrigerator or freezer to keep food cold in during a power outage. Water expands when it freezes, so do not overfill the containers;

- Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry, that you may not need immediately;

- Keep coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power goes out for more than four hours; and

- Group foods together in the freezer to help food stay cold longer.

MONITOR THE ROADS

Monitor local traffic and road conditions by going to www.scdot.org/getting/winterweather.aspx .