Officials: Stay home, stay safe from weather conditions

by Jo Anne Embleton

Although temperatures are on the rise in East Texas, and a winter storm warning lifts at noon Thursday, weather officials have issued a hard freeze warning effective overnight.

As a result, officials with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department continue to urge residents to stay put and stay safe.

“The roads are extremely icy and dangerous this morning,” officials report. “TXDOT is working diligently to blade the roads at this time. If you don’t have to be on the roads, please stay home and allow TXDOT to work.”

According to National Weather Service – Shreveport reports, sub-freezing temperatures of 10 to 20 degrees are expected for east-northeast Texas and parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma from 6 p.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Friday.

“Hard freeze conditions will result in damage to exposed pipes and additional water main breaks are expected,” officials said, noting that continued power outages across parts of the area will leave some residents vulnerable to frozen indoor plumbing as well.

Residents are slowly seeing restoration of power through the area, according to Oncor and Cherokee County Electric Cooperative Association.

An Oncor update, posted early Thursday morning, notes that approximately 150,000 remaining Oncor customers are without power, including those in Cherokee County.

According to its website, “as a result of increased generation and stable demand, Oncor has been able to cease controlled, or rotating, outages. The outages that remain are a result of damage from Wednesday’s winter storm, previous winter weather and storm damage that could not be identified until equipment was re-energized, and damage to electric equipment caused by record-breaking low temperatures.”

At this time, an accurate number of customers without power is unavailable, “due to the large amounts of system activity surrounding power restoration,” officials said.

Meanwhile, CCECA is reporting 179 outages as of 11 a.m. Thursday.

“The extreme freezing weather that has a grip on Texas is affecting all of us,” read a blog posting on the company’s website. “Lineworkers are working around the clock outdoors and with little sleep to hold our system together. Others are working in the cold dark to keep the electricity flowing safely – for your family and theirs.”