Events Postponed as Region Braces for Cleon

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Hopefully scenes like this, taken during the ice storm of 2009, won't be seen again this coming weekend as winter storm Cleon pushes through the region.

Winter storm Cleon is scheduled to roll out of the plains states late this week, and is forecast to result in heavy accumulations of ice and snow across much of the country by the weekend. According to the National Weather Service parts of several states, including all of Northeast Arkansas, may see heavy icing followed by snow late Thursday afternoon into early Saturday. Another round of snow is also forecast for Saturday night and Sunday, compounding the situation for travelers and holiday shoppers.

As a result of the forecast, Thursday night's Rector Christmas parade has been called off, but festivities at the community center will be going on as planned. Meanwhile, the Piggott Area Chamber of Commerce Christmas Fest and Parade has been postponed as well, but the make-up date has not been decided.

But, with memories of the ice storm of 2009 still fresh in their minds, local and regional authorities are busily preparing for the worse-- and, all the time hoping the forecasters are wrong.

"We can handle up to a half inch of ice without too many problems, but any more than that and we could have problems," Piggott Utilities Manager Brian Haley noted Tuesday morning. "Of course, the big issue in 2009 was loss of our main feeder line into the city--but after the ice storm it was rebuilt better and at a higher standard than is required so we're cautiously optimistic."

Haley noted city utility workers are preparing for the worst scenario, but observed things are much different now than in late January of 2009. "Our tree trimming program is much better, and we've been working to make sure we've got plenty of supplies and replacement items should there be a problem," he added. "We also have the generator up on 12th Street to keep our water supply going and we have a portable generator which could be moved to any location needed. The last time around it was used to keep the lift pumps going at the wastewater treatment plant."

Following the ice storm the city also entered into several mutual aid agreements with surrounding cities and other entities, which would provide help should it be needed. "The only problem with that is they're all in our region too, and if they're impacted by the weather event they'd need to take care of their area before being able to give us a hand," he explained. "But we do have mutual aid agreements through APPA, Missouri Public Utilities and our NEARK-SEMO pool members."

Haley also indicated other measures have been taken to insure the city is prepared for whatever transpires, noting they've secured an ample supply of both diesel and gasoline. "We hope we don't get as much as they've forecast," he surmised. "But, if it does get bad I'm confident we've done everything possible to be ready to handle the situation."

City officials are encouraging the public to be prepared, but at this point have not made plans to open any shelters.

"We are encouraging everyone to be ready for the weather event, and be prepared to maintain without power if needed," noted emergency services coordinator Jamie Cluck. "If the conditions warrant we'll make a Code Red call down to everyone letting them know about the availability of emergency services. At this point we don't have any plans to open a shelter, and won't address that issue until we see how bad the conditions are from the winter storm."

Keeping with the rule of thumb for such events, everyone is urged to try to insure they can fend for themselves should the need arise.

Code Red is available to all residents within the Piggott city limits. Those wanting to sign-up may do so by accessing the Code Red link on the city's website at piggott.org

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