Baldwin County ‘unequipped’ to handle winter weather
County officials are asking residents to stay home over the weekend to avoid driving on icy roads.
MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The threat of winter weather has Baldwin community leaders being brutally honest about the potential impact of brutally cold weather.
The county is getting prepared in case of ice, but County Manager Carlos Tobar says they can only do so much with what they have.
“We’re about as prepared as Miami, Florida would be for winter weather,” he said. “We don’t prepare for the cold in this part of Georgia, because it’s never really an issue.”
Middle Georgia is in for a possible blitz of winter conditions this weekend. Last weekend, parts of northern Middle Georgia, like Milledgeville, were preparing for the possibility of ice on the roads, and now that threat is a bit more serious.
The National Weather Service is predicting a 30% chance of freezing rain Friday night and a low of 26° in Baldwin County. The original plan was for public works to cover the county’s bridges in sand. Now, Tobar is asking residents to stay off the roads completely over the weekend.
“We want to encourage them to stay home,” he said. “Because cars are not ice skates. They are not built to navigate icy roads.”
County Engineer Brian Wood says the road management team is unequipped to handle such a big task.
“The two pieces of equipment we use to scrape the roads with are a motor grader and a front-end loader, but they can only do so much because we have 400 miles of roads in Baldwin County,” he said.
County officials say they never feel the need to invest in winter equipment, because the last time they needed it was in 2014.
“You can’t expect the county to spend taxpayer dollars for things that will sit on the shelf, never get used, or will get expired,” Tobar said. “It’s silly for the workers to go out and do this for something that will happen for a couple of hours for something that happens every eight years.”
The county only has three machines equipped to handle all of its roads, so the leaders’ best advice is to try to stay home Saturday if you can.
The Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency plans to monitor the winter conditions as the National Weather Service releases updates and will advise the county government and road management team on their plan of action.
A county notice was issued to Baldwin County residents Thursday:
“Baldwin County Residents:
This is the last weather briefing prior to the winter storm arriving tomorrow, Friday, January 21. The county strongly advises to stay home from midnight Friday night through mid-morning Saturday. The temperatures will be below freezing and rain is expected. That combination means icy roads. Our vehicles are not designed to travel on icy roads. Please do not try to drive in those conditions. Last weekend two people died in North Carolina and there were over 400 crashes in Virginia. The county will place sand on bridges only, but we still advise individuals not to drive. It will be dangerous to drive on icy roads.”