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Hospital, DOT officials: Stay off the icy roads Sunday, Monday

Posted January 13, 2022 11:21 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2022 12:24 a.m. EST

— Crews with the city of Raleigh are preparing their trucks to to roll out Friday at 9 p.m. to pre-treat the city's roads and prevent an icy build-up.

These Raleigh crews are getting their trucks ready to rollout tonight at 9 to pre-treat the roads to prevent an icy build-up.

"We’re out there to do a job and it’s best for everybody to be safe," said Steve Halsey, manager of transportation at the city of Raleigh. "You really need to be particularly careful on bridges and overpasses. Those are the first things you’re going to see ice build up."

Fewer drivers in danger on the roads will help hospitals that are already treating record numbers of COVID-19 patients while struggling with staff shortages, doctors said.

"If you do need to come to the emergency department, you might expect a little bit of a wait," said Dr. Linda Butler, Chief Medical Officer at UNC Rex. "Please be kind to our teammates. Many of them are pulling extra shifts, longer shifts."

On Friday, a record-high number of people were in the hospital with COVID-19. Across the capital region — Wake, Johnston, Lee, Franklin and Harnett counties — only seven ICU beds are available. There are around 162 hospital beds open across the five counties.

With winter weather just days away, the race is on to keep the lights on and homes warm, and necessary supplies are already becoming hot commodities.

Crews with ArborMax tree services are working frantically to fulfill requests from Raleigh residents and remove dangerous trees and branches.

The business has seen a 500% increase in calls from residents concerned about their trees with the approaching storm. Trees affected by the ice storm could fall on top of powerlines, which could put entire neighborhoods in the dark and without heat.

Tim Robbins, with ArborMax, said that his whole crew is "on standby" over the next couple of days to try and keep the community safe.

"As soon is it hits, as soon as the roads are cleared, we're out helping folks get stuff off houses and powerlines," he said.

At Oxford Ace Hardware, father-son team John Williford Sr. and John Williford Jr. are handing out advice and keeping an eye on their supply of winter weather equipment.

"Propane, we're running low on, but oil we're very well on," said the elder John. "When the snow flakes get to coming, that's when people get the sleds. They gotta see the white stuff first."

Across the Triangle, utility crews are also getting ready, prepping for a storm that looks more icy than snowy.

Piedmont Electric's Larry Hopkins said, right now, his team is making sure they have the crews and equipment ready for Sunday.

"It's a very big concern. Ice is our worst enemy," said Hopkins. "As we approach more of a quarter of an inch of ice, then we start to have extreme effects."

It's the same story over at Duke Energy, which is bringing in nearly 600 teammates from the company’s other service areas, including the Midwest and Florida, to assist with power restoration across the Carolinas.

The company has secured the help of approximately 1,000 workers from other utilities who will arrive in the Carolinas by Saturday to help restore power quickly and safely to impacted customers.

Customers who experience power outages can text ‘OUT’ to 57801, or call Duke Energy's automated outage-reporting system at 1-800-769-3766.

Both utility companies say they're prepared for the worst, just in case.

Utility companies are asking that anyone who experience an outage or sees downed wires or poles to report those conditions immediately. They said it'll help get the power back on as soon as possible.

"We would hope to have power back on in 72 hours. It would have to be a very extreme event for us to exceed that amount of time," said Hopkins.

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