Local Law enforcement, EMA report no major incidents due to winter weather | The Cullman Tribune


Law enforcement, EMA report no major incidents due to winter weather

These Cullman Police Department vehicles, pictured on Tuesday, Jan. 16, have been used in past snow events to help remove stranded vehicles. / Noah Galilee

CULLMAN COUNTY - Tuesday’s bitter cold winter weather brought with it high winds, snow, ice and a lot of work for local law enforcement and the Cullman County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). City and county school systems, businesses, city and county offices and even a couple of roads were closed the past couple of days, but for the most part, according to police and EMA, there weren’t many serious complications.

Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper credits that to the City’s preparation leading up to Tuesday’s conditions.

“We didn’t have any major issues; things were relatively quiet in town and I think a lot of the credit goes to ALDOT and the city street department for pre-treating the highways and the main roads,” Culpepper said. “I think that pre-treatment liquid they spread on them really made a difference, so we really appreciate them helping us out on that and we were just fortunate that we were just right on the edge of it being really bad, but we stayed on the safer edge I think. We were very fortunate that we didn’t have a lot of accidents and road issues and people getting stuck and stuff, other than that it’s just the cold, bitter cold.”

The low temperatures are a concern for the police department not just because of they affect citizens in the community, but how it could affect their pets as well. Culpepper has also made his officers aware of how the conditions could affect the flu situation.

“Our animal control officers have been following up on any kind of complaints or calls about a dog or animal that might be outside and not have shelter and things like that,” Culpepper said. We’ve cautioned all of our officers about flu precautions. We issued everybody hand sanitizer and explained and sent out emails about the protocol for trying to avoid it because you know we’re going everywhere and into people’s homes and dealing with folks close up so its hard sometimes not to be exposed.”

Culpepper said that the department has performed some welfare checks for home-bound people in the community and hasn’t had any issues so far. Normally they receive calls from relatives or friends out of town asking them check on their friends or loved ones. They were prepared, also, in case some of their personnel found themselves stuck at the office Tuesday night with cots and sleeping bags, but Culpepper was happy to report that none of his personnel had trouble getting home.

Culpepper and the department didn’t receive any requests for warming stations inside the city of Cullman, but in Hanceville, Police Chief Bob Long and EMA Director Phyllis Little opened up a warming station at Hanceville City Hall. Little said they did not receive any requests for transportation to the warming station and they had a station in the city of Cullman on standby in case they needed it. Little was happy to report that there were fewer serious issues than some may have anticipated.

“Our office has not had any calls for assistance; we haven’t had any power outages and that’s a big factor in that,” Little said. “Yesterday (Tuesday) we were monitoring weather events as they occurred, trying to keep up with any travel problems across the county, and coordinating with city street department, the county road department and ALDOT to make sure we had the most up-to-date information on travel issues, if there were any, that we could put out to the general public through social media. Outside that, we had our office here staffed with a representative from (Cullman) EMS, and later yesterday afternoon we had a representative from fire service. We were in phone contact with law enforcement at the same time and working with them on a plan in the event I-65 was shut down due to weather and we had to evacuate stranded motorists off of places like Lacon Mountain to a shelter. We did have a shelter at Vinemont High School that the principal up there and (Cullman County Schools) Superintendent (Shane) Barnette had so generously allowed us to prepare in the event we had to evacuate motorists, but as it happened, last night was a good night and we did not have to evacuate motorists. For the most part, we’ve just been watching events as they occur and responding as needed with information for the public and being on standby in the event we needed to respond to any type of emergency.”

Little said that Tuesday night was a “quiet night” in the office outside of staying in contact with law enforcement and other organizations around the county. Little updated the road closure situations around the area on Wednesday and has been in contact with ALDOT about concerns over state roads.

On Wednesday morning, she reported that all roads in Cullman County were passable, but, “We’re still encouraging people, especially on the county roads, where it may be sheltered and sun’s not going to reach it today and the wind isn’t going to have a chance to dry it off, travel with care. County engineers are still encouraging people to hold off on non-essential travel today until conditions get better in those areas. Outside of that if you have to travel just use precautions because there will be some patchy ice and some of that will linger tonight but we don’t anticipate any significant travel issues.”

Hanceville Police Chief Bob Long was happy to report slow, quiet nights for his department as well. The HPD has had some people take advantage of the city hall warming station and even answered a call to carry some food out someone’s home.

“Well we’ve just been experiencing the cold like everybody else; we’ve got the warming station set up here in city hall. Yesterday (Tuesday) we had two people there and today we have one and we answered a call last night from an elderly lady that wanted to come up here because she didn’t have any food. She did actually have heat and water, so we took her some meals from city hall that we use to feed our inmates and so forth and took that down there to her and she’s supposed to be getting some assistance from her family today. Other than that, we’re just trying to weather the storm like everybody else, watch out for the slick spots on the roads, and the street department is sanding the bridges and things as needed.”

Hanceville PD hasn’t had to respond to any more accidents than usual and hasn’t had any serious concerns with accidents on the roads as of late Wednesday. Chief Long, like Chief Culpepper, is also hopeful that school and business closings could help slow down the spread of flu.

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