Snowfall blankets region with 6-10 inches

VIENNA – Just as the Mid-Ohio Valley was thawing out from last week’s deep freeze, a fresh blanket of snow fell overnight Sunday, slowing much activity in the area to a crawl if not an outright halt.

In addition to area schools, the 6 to 10 inches of snow resulted in the closure of the Grand Central Mall, the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library and other places that usually aren’t quick to take a snow day.

“It’s pretty bad out there,” said Katrina Stephens, marketing director for the mall.

Monday was only the second time in at least seven years Stephens could remember the mall closing due to inclement weather.

Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library director Brian Raitz closed the main library on Emerson Avenue and its branches Monday, at least the third day he’s done so this year. The library has also closed early a couple of times as ice, snow and cold made conditions hazardous for employees and patrons alike.

“I really hate closing the library because we are a public place and people need our resources,” Raitz said, noting the heat in the building is one of those resources during the winter. “It’s usually a safety call.”

Wood County 911 dispatchers had trouble reporting for work Monday morning at the 911 Center, said Carl Sizemore, interim director of the emergency facility. Snow on Core Road prevented travel, he said.

Numerous calls were being answered about accidents, mostly fender-benders or from motorists stuck in a ditch, Sizemore said.

“It’s a little crazy out there this morning,” Sizemore said.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport saw 10 inches of snowfall, which affected operations Monday, said airport manager Jeff McDougle.

“We have a broken brush, so we can’t get the snow off the runway until it is fixed, and we have the airline wanting to land and a general aviation pilot who wants to leave,” he said. “It’s just crazy.”

City of Parkersburg road crews swung into action Sunday night when the snow started falling.

“We started last night at about 9 o’clock, and we haven’t stopped since,” Rick Lemley, city public works director, said Monday afternoon.

As it was the heaviest snow experienced this winter, Lemley said it would take workers longer than usual to clear roads. Hills, main arteries and intersections are treated first.

“Then we start on the side streets,” Lemley said.

Trash collection for the city was canceled on Monday, and will resume today, running a day behind schedule the rest of the week, the sanitation department said.

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz said issues with maintenance department vehicles made work on the city’s roads slow Monday.

“Of the four trucks we have that are large enough to do this work with, one is broken down and another isn’t working correctly,” Lorentz said. “So, while we are doing well, we are just working very slow and hope everyone is able to be patient with us.”

The mayor added the city is getting low on salt and it will likely be a little while before another shipment arrives.

“We are using it as sparingly as possible and hope things work out,” Lorentz added. “Really, this is just a typical snowstorm.”

Nevertheless, Monday’s snowfall impressed Parkersburg native David McCuskey, even though he now calls Dove Creek, Colo., home.

“We haven’t had this much snow, at least not in the part of Colorado I live in,” said McCuskey, in town to help care for his mother.

The snow brought the opportunity for some residents to help their neighbors, as Parkersburg resident Betty Fisher, 83, discovered when she went out to shovel the driveway and sidewalk of her 30th Street home.

“All of a sudden, this middle-aged lady was walking down from the store (Dollar General) with her food,” she said. “Then she went and took my shovel and said, ‘You’re too old to be doing this.’

“Here she shoveled my whole driveway off,” Fisher said.

The woman, who lived down the street, did not ask Fisher for any money.

Fisher was delighted to share that story and another from Sunday when a man slipped on some ice that hadn’t melted yet, spilling his groceries from Dollar General. Although several cars drove past him, splashing water, one woman pulled over, got out of her car and helped him repack his items.

“Boy, it would be wonderful if everybody looked out for everybody like that,” Fisher said.

Heavy snowfall is out of the forecast for the rest of the week, but rain is expected to move in tonight. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch, in effect from this evening until Wednesday morning.

(Staff writer Jolene Craig and city editor Jesse Mancini contributed to this story).