When weather forecasters reported the potential for a fast-moving storm that could deliver several inches of snow on Thursday, area residents should have listened and taken more precautions, according to one emergency response official.
If that had happened, there would likely have been fewer people stranded for hours along roads all across the Tri-Cities, said Chad Bruckman, operations and training director for the Washington County/Johnson City Emergency Management Agency.
“We knew in the morning we might be under the gun. People need to pay attention to forecasts ... businesses need to let their people go home. They need to pay attention and let their workers out and think of the safety of their employees,” he said.
Instead, he said, most people were trying to get home as steady rain turned to freezing precipitation.
The storm started dumping heavy, wet snow that fell for about three to four hours.
It created havoc on area roads as motorists began to lose traction and slide off into ditches or crash into other vehicles.
“People need to be more aware of the conditions. They can’t drive as fast when it’s snowing,” Bruckman said.
Several wrecks he knew about were caused by drivers “flying up the interstate. Semis, cars ... they just don’t slow down.”
Another problem for motorists who do get stuck or stranded is most don’t have an emergency kit in their car, Bruckman said.
At a minimum, a winter emergency kit should consist of blankets or warm clothing, water and snacks, according to AAA. Other items handy to have include a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a small shovel and a sack of sand or cat litter for traction.