Erin Smith Staff writer
January 31, 2014
The Elizabethtown Airport had its wings clipped, a victim of last week’s Winter Storm Leon, as the airport was one of several local airports that closed to due to the weather conditions.
Other airports that closed for a brief time due to the storm included Wilmington International Airport and Fayetteville Regional Airport, as well as other smaller airports, said Town Manager Eddie Madden.
Madden said the town does not have the equipment needed to scrape the 5,000-foot runway.
“Because the governor declared a state of emergency, the request we made for snow removal was passed on to the EOC … they determined it was not feasible,” said Madden. “With their limited resources, they weren’t able to get to it before temperatures returned to normal.”
Madden said based on that, it was decided to allow nature to take its course and thaw the runway.
Elizabethtown Public Works Director Pat DeVane said the town had treated sidewalks in the business district with salt prior to the storm and then spent Thursday working to shovel off sidewalks and clear snow from the downtown.
He added that the town worked a skeleton crew Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to ensure the wells and lift stations were working properly.
“We don’t have a lot of equipment to deal with snow and ice,” said DeVane.
He added the N.C. Department of Transportation cleared N.C. 87 and U.S. 701 and they maintain the secondary roads, but was not responsible for clearing the city owned streets.
“We don’t have any road scraping equipment,” said DeVane.
He added on Friday morning that some secondary streets still had icy patches on them but that was expected to clear up by later in the day and into the weekend.
“I think we weathered it pretty well,” said DeVane of the town’s efforts during the storm.
DeVane said they were also receiving a high volume of calls about water lines that were freezing and breaking.
“We’ve had a lot of customers calling about coming out and cutting the water off because of broken water lines,” said DeVane.
He added that, on Friday morning, the town experienced a water line break at the wastewater treatment plant located on Scout Lane. The break was repaired quickly and things were operating smoothly by mid-morning, said DeVane.
Bladenboro Mayor Rufus Duckworth said the town of Bladenboro weathered the storm well and he wasn’t aware of any major problems.
“We don’t clean roads or anything like that,” said Duckworth. He added that DOT did a good job keeping the state-maintained road open.
The Bladenboro town offices were closed on Wednesday and operated on a two-hour delay on Thursday, said Duckworth.
“I think we did pretty good. I’m thankful we didn’t get the snow amounts that were originally forecast,” said Duckworth.
Bladen County Schools, already closed Friday, Jan. 24, and Monday, Jan. 27, for teacher work days, were shuttered Tuesday, Jan. 28, through Friday because of Winter Storm Leon. Students returned to classes on Monday, and the Central Office was in the process of determining how the missed days will be made up.
Most local, county and state offices, as well as many businesses, were also closed at some point through the week.
The rare winter weather also kept local basketball teams off the courts — both for games and practice.
West Bladen’s games at Wallace-Rose Hill, scheduled for last Wednesday, will be made up at a later date. It’s games on Friday at Heidi Trask were moved to Saturday.
East Bladen’s scheduled games at Clinton on Thursday were also moved to this past Saturday, while its games on Friday at Pender were postponed until Saturday this week.
— Bladen Journal Editor W. Curt Vincent contributed to this story.