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Polk County better prepared for cold

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Icicles hanging from a porch in Goodrich during the recent freeze. PHOTO BY BRIAN BESCHIcicles hanging from a porch in Goodrich during the recent freeze. PHOTO BY BRIAN BESCH

From Enterprise Staff

The ice and cold weather closed school districts, county and city offices and some businesses in the area, but Polk County was able to avoid many of the problems experienced just three years ago.

As of press time Tuesday, Polk County was expected to receive around 60 hours of freezing temperatures. The only interruption was a two-hour-span that produced a high of 34 degrees. The feels-like readings plummeted to negative 2 degrees at its lowest.

All six county school distrcts remained closed Tuesday following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday. Corrigan-Camden and Goodrich ISD began classes later than usual Wednesday because of icy road conditions.

County offices, as well as city offices in Livingston and Onalaska, closed due to inclement weather. Lake Livingston Water Supply gave a boil water notice for many areas due to an electrical repair in their system.

Polk County Emergency Management warned of slick spots on roadways and icy bridges. They advised all to avoid travel if possible. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office reported that the Trinity River Bridge at the border of Polk and San Jacinto County on Highway 59 was icy. Lanes in both the north and south side of the highway were closed at the Trinity River. Highway 59 from Corrigan to the Neches River was also reported to be iced.

The Onalaska Police Department reported slick spots at Old Trinity at US Highway 190 West. Livingston Police reported an iced bridge on Pan American Drive near the Boot Barn. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office also reported a couple of miles of icy road on S.H. 350 North at Horace Bonds Road. TxDOT had an icy bridge report on Highway 190 over Lake Livingston.

On Tuesday, the county’s emergency management reported additional dangerous conditions on roadways. Highway 146 from Red Barn Builders Supply to FM 1988 had ice, as did the big bridge in Onalaska over Lake Livingston. The bridge was said to have icy patches at the top, but was passible.

Those locally and statewide seem better prepared for the impact of winter weather than in 2021. In February of that year, the entire state of Texas was in a winter storm warning, with 100 hours of uninterrupted freezing in some areas. Temperatures in much of southeast Texas dipped into the teens or single digits, with wind chills down into the single digits and some below zero. The weather caused widespread power outages across the state that continued over the next several days. The rare Texas snow was around an inch near Houston, and up to six inches further north.

Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy called a declaration of disaster over four days during the 2021 winter storm. The northern portion of the county received 4-6 inches of snow, while Livingston received 3-4 inches. Temperatures dropped to a low of 4 degrees. The Polk County Office of Emergency Management reported that approximately 2,600 homes were without water and 292 were without electricity.

While there were isolated incidents of power outages, water issues and vehicle accidents, Polk County largely dodged many of the pitfalls of 2021.

“We’ve done pretty well for power,” Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock said Tuesday. “We’ve had some sporadic outages, but nothing major. It looks like SHECO (Sam Houston Electric Cooperative) got them back up fairly quickly.”

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