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Snow blankets community

Closes school, hampers local businesses

POSTED: February 19, 2014 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

Ashton Bonney, 12, builds a snowman last week during the weather system that blanketed Dawson County with snow and ice.

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A winter weather system brought as much as eight inches of snow to some areas of Dawson County and then stuck around for most of last week, shuttering schools and many local businesses for days.

The Dawson County school system was closed Tuesday through Friday, which was intended to be an inclement weather makeup day for the winter storm two weeks earlier.

Twelve-year-old Ashton Bonney and brother Ethan, 9, took advantage of the free time and had a snowman built in their side yard by 10 a.m. Tuesday.

"It's good snow," she said packing a snowball from the inch that already accumulated on the ground.

Neighbors Hunter Martin, 13, and Jacob Hardin, 6, paused from riding bikes through the slush near downtown Dawsonville for a snowball fight.

"This is great," Martin said. "The snow is awesome."

But while children were enjoying the snowy escapade, county and state crews were embarking on an adventure of salting and clearing local roads.

According to County Manager Cindy Campbell, Dawson's road department personnel spread 20 tons of salt and 30 tons of gravel over the three-day span.

"The 70 tons of salt on-hand was strategically rationed due to the uncertainty of the severity and length storm. As long as the roads remained slushy and wet, crews were able to use snow blades and gravel," she said. "Once it began to ice, salt was applied."

The heavy snow, freezing rain and sleet covered roads made travel virtually impossible for motorists.

Those who did make attempts to drive found impassible conditions as roadways were blanketed with several inches of ice and snow.

Campbell said local emergency management implemented extreme weather protocol ahead of the storm system.

"Department management worked around the clock monitoring the weather and updating the ... roads department, school system and city management of conditions, as well as put out communications to inform local citizens," Campbell said. "Public works and emergency services personnel worked tirelessly during the storm to make sure citizens were as safe as possible.

"The effectiveness of their operations is the result of all the pre-planning and attention that went into preparing for and dealing with the snow and ice event."

Eighteen families reported power outages and nearly 100 trees were reportedly downed during the storm.

"Dawson County Emergency Management Agency developed a plan for temporarily housing citizens had they been without power or otherwise needed emergency shelter. Thankfully, conditions did not warrant activation of this plan," Campbell said.

Emergency personnel responded to 12 wrecks, two of which involved injuries, and one structure fire during the weather event.

The most serious injury involved a 22-year-old Dawsonville man, who was reportedly using a kayak as a sled on Old Savannah Place off Thompson Road when he collided head on with a tree.

Dawson County Emergency Services Battalion Chief Jason Dooley said the man was listed in stable condition when taken by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.





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