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Winter weather forces closures

by | Feb 9, 2023 | Latest

Although students received an extended break from school last week, several other entities were impacted by frigid temperatures and hazardous road conditions.

Wylie ISD also closed schools Tuesday, Jan. 31, until Friday, Feb. 3, with a plan to reopen campuses fully on Monday, Feb. 6. The district has not revealed its make-up day plan as of presstime Feb. 6 as it determines how it will approach the missed classroom time.

Initially, the district announced two make-up days, but it has revised its stance to one of evaluation for handling the nearly weeklong closure.

Athletic activities resumed Feb. 3, but all other after-school activities were canceled during the closures.

Additionally, most city offices and facilities in Wylie were closed over the same period. The Smith Public Library and Wylie Recreation Center reopened Feb. 3.

Trash pickup in the city was impacted Jan. 31-Feb. 1 with trash-only pickup resuming Thursday, Feb. 2 as long as road conditions permitted. Residents were encouraged to leave their trash cans out by the curb until 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. 

Fire Chief Brandon Blythe said Public Works crews worked 24 hour shifts, divided into 12-hour blocks since Monday, Jan. 30. Two sanding teams placed about 160 yards of sand to help de-ice roadways while also clearing parking lots and sidewalks near city facilities and assisted the fire department in five calls for service.

During the winter weather, only two roadways had to be closed, said Blythe, adding that the Public Works Department responded to calls of a fire hydrant and one school zone light pole hit by vehicles. Workers also cleared four downed trees from roadways.

The fire and police responded to several minor car wrecks, with 11 wrecks involving injuries, said Blythe. There were some cases of public works and first responders assisting vehicles that were stuck alongside the road but none where a motorist had been stranded for a long time.

Wylie ER Director of Marketing Jennifer Christoferson said most of the walk-in traffic was down during the winter weather although it saw more visitors as a result of car wrecks. The business also booked hotel rooms nearby for its staff who had to commute from a distance, she added, so that they could still provide care while the roads were icy.

There was also an increase in the number of calls the department received with many of them being for falls.

As ice melted, Christoferson said a major hazard could be falling ice because it has the ability to cause injuries, even though most people think about the ground.. It can also damage vehicles by sliding off the roof or other parts of the car onto roadways creating hazards for other motorists.

There were also about 100 power outages reported by Farmers Electric Cooperative with another 600 Oncor customers losing power, Blythe said.

During the winter weather, he added that the department increased its staffing across the board to account for greater transportation times to area hospitals and more calls.

Businesses were also impacted by the storm, including Panaderia La Esperanza co-owner Jose Mejia who said that he closed down his business Wednesday, Feb. 1, because of the icy roads. Speaking the following day, he said he wanted to open so that residents could get a hot coffee or baked goods.

“Today, we decided to open to give people a chance to get baked goods or a pastry,” Mejia said.

Jose Mejia clears out the icy sidewalk in front of his business.

Although the overall customer volume was down, he said that the customers who came in bought a couple boxes of baked goods or pastries as opposed to a few items. 

“We didn’t expect to be busy, but we’re here for anyone who needs us,” Mejia said.

One Wylie resident and employee in the city’s Parks Maintenance Group, Luke Olson, also cared for a new feline friend for 72 hours. His father, Evan Olson, said the cat was stuck in the undercarriage of his car since Monday, Jan. 30.

Luke called animal control officers, but they never showed up, so he drove home with the cat in tow. While the roads were icy, he went outside to feed it and to also try to dislodge it.

Cat stuck under Luke Olson’s car

On Feb. 2, Luke took the cat, who was still lodged in the car, to the Firestone Auto Care Center in Garland, located at State Highway 78 and Bunker Hill Road, where the cat was finally freed. The homeless cat was adopted by a mechanic and his girlfriend.

County services were also impacted by the winter weather with Collin County staying closed from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. Because of the deadline to pay property taxes by Jan. 31 overlapping with the closure, the county extended the deadline to receive taxes until the first date of reopening, Feb. 3.

Collin County opened government offices for regular hours Feb. 3.

As a result of potential damage, Governor Greg Abbott has encouraged residents to report using the state’s Individual State of Texas Assessment tool (iSTAT) survey, which can be accessed by visiting damage.tdem.texas.gov and clicking “Ice Storm/Winter Weather Jan. 29-ongoing.” The damage survey helps state officials understand the impacts and identify any necessary resources to assist in disaster relief. Reporting is voluntary and does not preclude individuals from reporting to their insurance company nor does it guarantee assistance.

“As ice begins to thaw in many communities, the winter weather impacts to homes and businesses are revealing themselves,” said Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. “I urge any Texan who sustained property damage to report it in order to aid officials in identifying community needs.”

Information provided in the survey will also help the state determine its eligibility for federal assistance.

For more stories, such as this, subscribe to The Wylie News.

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