Snow is beginning to accumulate, the plows are out, and residents everywhere are settling in for a long weekend, state officials reported Friday evening as blizzard conditions hit Delaware. As of 9:30 p.m. on Friday Delaware State Police reported that there had been one injury accident and 15 crashes that involved property damage.
Gov. Jack Markell issued a State of Emergency order to start at 8 p.m. In addition, starting at 10 p.m., the governor ordered that all non-emergency vehicles were prohibited from driving on the roadways. That order is in place until further notice.
"We are already getting reports of property damage and personal injury crashes," said Andrea Summers, community relations officer. "It is simply not safe to drive in these conditions and these individuals are unnecessarily endangering themselves as well as putting the lives of emergency responders at risk."
As of 9:30 p.m. on Friday, snow accumulation was less than 5 inches in most cases, with 4 inches in Hockessin and 4 inches in Laurel. However, National Weather Service forecasters said the heaviest snowfall is likely to come between 10 p.m. and mid-morning on Saturday. To check snow accumulation numbers, updated automatically every five minutes, please go to www.deos.udel.edu. Local totals as of 2 a.m. indicated 6.4 inches on the ground in Selbyville and 9.1 inches in Dover.
Crews from Delaware Department of Transportation are plowing roads throughout the state.
“We are focusing exclusively on primary roads,” said Jim Westhoff, spokesman for DelDOT. “The primary routes are the multi-lane roads, and Routes 24 and 26 in Sussex County.”
“The ban on vehicles will be a tremendous help,” Westhoff said. “With the roads clear of all traffic, we can work safer and more efficiently.”
As of 8 p.m. the American Red Cross opened up shelters in each county. In New Castle County, the shelter is located at the Odessa Fire Hall; in Kent County, the shelter is located at Dover High School; and in Sussex County, the shelter is located at Sussex Central High School.
On order of the governor, the Delaware National Guard was activated at 8 p.m. Friday evening.
There are currently 175 Delaware Guardsmen on duty. They are organized into three county task forces of about 45 soldiers each, a Joint Operations Center of about 20, and the rest coordinating with civilian agencies.
Working in conjunction with DEMA and state and local emergency agencies, the task forces are prepared to assist with: Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls, fire calls, law enforcement calls and dialysis patient transport. They can also assist DelDOT and local public works in clearing disabled/abandoned vehicles from roadways.
Each task force has Highly Mobile Multi-Wheeled Vehicles, Light-Medium Tactical Vehicles, and a wrecker. All soldiers are equipped with the latest in cold-weather gear, known as the Extreme Cold Weather System, and were given detailed guidance on how to stay safe during the mission.
The Delaware Air National Guard has forces on standby should they be needed to serve as a follow-on force.
“We remind everyone that requests for assistance come through the county Emergency Operations Centers,” officials noted.