Pax packs punch in Carroll

By Allen Worrell

February 14, 2014

Winter Storm Pax certainly packed a punch in Hillsville and Carroll County, dumping up to 21 inches of snow on Hillsville from about noon Wednesday to approximately 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

With a heavy snow hammering Virginia and much of the south non-stop for more than 28 hours, first responders and the Virginia Department of Transportation worked tirelessly in efforts to keep people safe. According to the Virginia State Police, emergency dispatch centers across the Commonwealth fielded 5,220 calls for service from 4 p.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday as roads were virtually impassable.

During that same period, state troopers responded to 1,358 traffic crashes and 1,417 disabled vehicles across the Commonwealth. In the Salem Division, which includes Carroll County, the Virginia State Police responded to 176 traffic crashes, 336 disabled vehicles and 958 calls for service. Incredibly, Hillsville Police Chief Greg Bolen said his office did not have any calls for wrecks during that time frame in Town limits.

“Thank God we did not have the first wreck call. If anybody saw our Facebook page, we were promoting people to stay at home. Town crews and VDOT were working themselves to death, but roads were still bad,” Bolen said. “We did help get a few stranded motorists out of the road and pushed some cars out.”

Bolen said his department also went door to door checking on elderly citizens and medical shut-ins to make sure everyone was safe and sound.

“Anytime we have weather like this, we go and check on them,” Bolen said. “We made laps and covered several around town.”

The huge snow crippled Hillsville, Bolen said, adding that most people locally reported about 21 inches of snow. Some areas of town were only accessible by foot, he said. Thankfully, most folks heeded the warnings to stay home and off the roads.

“We had minimal traffic (Wednesday), which helped with not having accidents. Most people realized how bad it was,” Bolen said. “We told people to stay inside and off the roads, which make roads safer for everybody and for town and VDOT crews. For us to have no wrecks, it was rare in this kind of weather.”

As far as weather-related damage, Bolen said the only report his office received was of the awning breaking at CVS in Hillsville.

Carroll County Emergency Services Coordinator Mike Mock said considering the magnitude of this storm event, everything went about as smoothly as possible for Carroll’s first responders. Carroll crews responded to only one wreck of significance during the snow event, an accident Wednesday night in Cana in which one person was transported to an area hospital, Mock said.

“All in all we’ve really had no other issues come up other than it has been very difficult for squads to get into where medical calls where,” Mock said. “It took them some excessive times to get to the hospital because of ice and snow.”

Mock said snow totals throughout Carroll County ranged anywhere from 17 to 20 inches. There were no reports of power outages, he said, commending citizens and workers of the county for how they responded to the major winter storm.

“We commend the people of Carroll County for heeding the warnings of the storm and not getting on highways when they didn’t need to,” Mock said. “That helped reduce any major issues we could have had. We have been very fortunate.”