bg 2-3 cleaning the mess.tif

Tahlequah Street Department workers cleared a section of West Delaware in front of the Cherokee County Courthouse Wednesday morning. County crews were going to clear the parking lot north of the building and the lot in the rear of the building so the courthouse could be prepared to open today.

Conditions in the area improved Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s record-breaking blizzard, but roads remained slick and hazardous in some of the outlying areas.

Local emergency services personnel urged residents to remain cautious when driving and also to be aware of dangerous wind chills. A wind chill warning was issued for Cherokee County as wind chills dropped well below zero.

Tahlequah-Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Gary Dotson said all signs seem to indicate local citizens heeded the warning and are sitting out the storm’s aftermath in their homes.

“We haven’t received any calls for need of shelter,” he said. “A lot of people went out ahead of time and bought groceries and supplies.”

Dotson said he has heard of only minor, spotty reports of power outages since the storm dumped sleet and about 8 inches of snow on the county.

Lake Region Electric Cooperative CEO Hamid Vahdatipour said two individual outages were reported Tuesday morning – one in Lowrey and the other in Braggs. He said both were fixed by midday Tuesday, and no new outages were reported Wednesday.

Ozarks Electric Cooperative, which has customers in the eastern part of the county, also reported only a minimal problem with outages. Those were quickly fixed, according to an outage update sent to local media.

The storm continued to force some closures today. Tahlequah Public Schools canceled classes for the third consecutive day due to weather, and although no official word had been issued at presstime, other public schools across the county were expected to follow suit. (The Tahlequah Press has been operating under early deadlines because the newspaper is printed by the Muskogee Phoenix.)

The University of Oklahoma and other institutions were to remain closed Thursday.

Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band government offices were closed Wednesday. No decision had been announced by presstime on their status for today.

The Cherokee County Courthouse was expected to be open today after being closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cherokee County Commission Chairman Doug Hubbard said county offices may have to work partially staffed, but he believed the offices would be open today.

Hubbard said main roads in his district, which is mainly north of Tahlequah, remained snow-packed Wednesday afternoon. He said blacktop roads have been bladed and hills have been sanded.

“Most of them are passable,” he said. “But they’re not clear.”

Hubbard said his road crews have been working 12- to 13-hour days during the storm, but he did not think they would work past dark Wednesday.

“We’ve done about all we can do until they [roads] thaw some,” he said. “We’re going to get on some of the dirt roads.”

Tahlequah Street Commissioner Mike Corn said he and his crews had worked on the city’s major streets and were working on residential areas Wednesday afternoon. He said he thought most of the main streets in the city were in good shape.

“The sun has helped us a little bit,” Corn said.

Many of the streets were bladed and some sand has been placed near stop signs and intersections. Corn said the Street Department has worked two 12-hour crews during the storm.

Corn said Cherokee County District 3 Commissioner Mike Ballard provided a blade for the city crews to use.

“We really appreciate Mike and his help,” he said.

City and county road crews said they both believe they have enough sand to make it through the storm’s lingering effects, but they hope they have time to haul some in before the next storm hits.

“It’s getting kind of slim,” Corn said.

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