Icy start for new EMA Director

Downtown Heflin

Cleburne County’s newly sworn-in emergency manager, Crystal Cavender, was ready to start her new job during a day when snow and ice were forecast to cause travel concerns

Cavender’s position is a merger of the former positions of 911 director and Emergency Management Agency director.

“What a day to start,” Cavender said after Tuesday morning’s swearing-in ceremony. “I’m excited to get started and get started we will.”

Cavender said her agency has participated in National Weather Service webinars in preparation for the snow and ice.

“We have notified our agencies. I’ve been in contact with the schools — our local agencies — got our staff on board and we’re ready to go,” Cavender said.

County engineer Lee Estes was preparing too, and said road crews would be out spreading a gritty sand mixture.

“We really don’t have the capability of any kind of salt trucks or anything like that. We’ve got a few dump trucks with some sand-grit, and if we start hitting some icy spots we’ll try to go spread a little sand-grit on top of them,” Estes said.

“Unfortunately we’re just not prepared for it,” he said.

Cleburne County Sheriff Dennis Green said all available generators had been filled up to power the jail if there are any power outages. Green said all the four-wheel vehicles the department has were ready to pick up patients if an ambulance can’t reach them.  

Green said that during last month’s snowstorm, the four-wheel drive vehicles were a “lifesaver.”

Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith said the city will follow the lead of the Cleburne County Emergency Management Agency and make announcements on Facebook as needed concerning road closures.

“We have no plans except to make sure we’re maintaining the streets and make sure we have police officers and fire people out,” Smith said.

Cleburne County Commission Chairman Ryan Robertson said that county offices will close early on Tuesday at noon and will delay opening until 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Ranburne City Clerk Pamela Thompson said a Town Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday night was canceled; a make-up day will be announced, she said.

Cleburne County Schools superintendent Chad Young said an announcement concerning school closures for Wednesday would be made later Tuesday.