Phoenixville community braces for snowstorm

Photo by Kevin Hoffman, 21st Century Media

Only a week after snow and ice wreaked havoc on the region, downing trees and cutting power to hundreds of thousands, Phoenixville and surrounding communities are preparing for round two.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the region from 10 p.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. Friday and expects the storm could bring as much as 10 inches of snow to Philadelphia’s northwest suburbs.

Because of this, and with last week’s ice storm fresh in mind, Phoenixville has issued a snow emergency from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 p.m. Friday. According to the borough website, “NO vehicles should remain on a Snow Emergency Route for the duration of the declaration. Borough Lots will be available free of charge for the duration on the declartion.” A list of snow emergency routes in the borough can be found here.

Because of the storm, the borough’s administrative offices will be closed tomorrow and Thursday trash collection will be postponed until Saturday.

The borough also warns on its page that the salt supply is running low, saying that plowing will continue as usual, but only major roads, intersections and steep inclines will be salted to conserve the supply.

More information on dealing with the snow emergency can be found on the borough website, www.phoenixville.org or on Chester County’s emergency services page, http://www.chesco.org/index.aspx?NID=217.

The Phoenixville Office for Emergency Management was also asking residents to prepare for the storm.

“Please continue to prepare yourselves for possible outages. Get gas for your generators, have food and water on hand as well as flashlights and other items you will need,” a post on their Facebook page read. “Also, make arrangements to find friends or family who can take you in in the event of a long-term outage and check on relatives, especially the elderly, to ensure they will be cared for. Please also stock up on anything you may need for pets and plan to stay off the roads.”

Officials also provided some lighthearted humor on the page, saying “When this winter is over, we should really have a community-wide ‘Welcome, Spring, we’re so happy to see you!’ party or something.”

After last week’s storm left many in the borough without power, officials set up a warming center at Barkley Elementary School with cots for people to nap on and volunteers serving warm food.

Councilman Jeremy Dalton said the warming center was set up in a cooperative effort between Borough Manager Jean Krack and the school district because many emergency centers in the area were without power. He stressed that it wasn’t an official county shelter, and so he couldn’t be sure whether it would be open in case of power outages after Thursday’s storm.

“These are our people. I was elected by the people for the people to take care of the people,” Dalton said. “Punishing these people because we don’t have an emergency plan in place is not an option at all.”

That’s why he felt compelled to spring into action and help organize the warming center last week, along with fellow councilman Jon Ichter.

“We got people back to being as happy as they could be,” he said, adding that they also helped families from neighboring communities like Spring City, Linfield and Birchrunville.

Another place people could go after last week’s storm was the Phoenixville branch of the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA. Once power was restored last Friday, the Y opened its doors to the public regardless of membership to get hot showers and charge their phones.

Deirdre Wood, executive director of the Phoenixville branch, said the facility will be open for public use again once today’s storm has passed, should power outages be a problem for the area again. The facility is closed today due to the weather.

The severity of the recent weather has been something of a wake-up call, and Dalton said officials have begun discussing sit-down meetings to develop an extensive emergency management plan.

“We are acting as best we can to have that plan in place for future emergencies,” he said.

Dalton said residents can get more information on emergency services from the emergency broadcast or on the borough website. He also urged Phoenixville residents in need of assistance during the storm to contact their local officials. Each council member’s phone number and email address is listed on the borough website.

“If anyone has any problems, please talk to your local council member,” Dalton said. “We’re here to help you if you need us.”