Residents urged to stay home as wintry weather leaves roads icy, treacherous

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Mayor Charlene Fancher urged area residents to not travel in the city after 4 p.m. as roadway conditions were treacherous in the city, as shown in this photo from the Red Bay Police Department. (Photo courtesy of Captain Scottie Belue and Investigator Kyle Gober, Red Bay Police Department)

Updated 2/15/21 at 5:30 p.m. with new information on power outages and line repairs.

Travel was discouraged and area utilities were dispatched to restore electricity as a powerful winter storm rolled through the region Monday, bringing frigid temperatures and several inches of sleet and wintry precipitation.

Travel conditions went from bad to worse late Sunday and throughout the day Monday. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department issued multiple advisories Monday warning area residents to stay home and off the roadways unless there was an emergency. While no roads were officially closed, the department said the National Weather Service and the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency had deemed all roads in the county impassable. Gregory Corble, Senior Trooper with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Troop E, said those same conditions were prevalent across North Alabama, with several wrecks being reported on Interstate 22 in Marion County and icy roadway conditions throughout Colbert, Lauderdale and Lawrence counties.

In Red Bay, Mayor Charlene Fancher issued a notice via the city’s Facebook page urging residents to stay home.

Mayor Charlene Fancher urged area residents to not travel in the city after 4 p.m. as roadway conditions were treacherous in the city, as shown in this photo from the Red Bay Police Department. (Photo courtesy of Captain Scottie Belue and Investigator Kyle Gober, Red Bay Police Department)

“Due to extreme hazardous road conditions, the City of Red Bay requests that no one be driving in the city limits effective 4:00 PM with the exception of an emergency situation,” the notice read. “All grocery stores will be closing at 4:00 PM this afternoon. The weather conditions will be worsening as the temperature continues to decrease in the afternoon hours. Power failure is very possible.”

Crews with Franklin Electric Co-op responded to multiple reports of power outages Monday. Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said the most heavily affected areas of the county appeared to be east of Hwy. 43. The Sheriff’s Department issued a notice about 5:15 p.m. that Franklin Electric would be suspending restoration efforts from 6 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“We ask that customers please understand the dangers involved with this job and that crews have been working non-stop outside in the severe cold,” the notice stated. “Darkness also makes their jobs even more dangerous! Please take whatever steps are necessary to prepare for nightfall. We thank the utility crews for their hard work and the progress they have made in repairing the overwhelming damage to the power grid!”

An immediate estimate of the number of homes affected and the locations was not available but reports of power loss were widespread. Dozens of Alabama Power customers south of Red Bay and in the Vina area reported power outages as well.

Red Bay Police Chief Janna Jackson said her officers were reporting treacherous road conditions but added that for the most part people were staying at home and off the roads.

Fancher said as far as trash pickup in the city goes, collection would be suspended until Wednesday. Monday’s garbage route will be picked up Wednesday and Tuesday’s route will be picked up on Thursday.