It’s going to be a busy 24 hours for Region 22 Emergency Management Director Tim Newman.
His day began at 8 a.m. Wednesday, and his first order of business was issuing a snow emergency for Scottsbluff, Gering and Terrytown, effective at noon.
“It’s the same song, second verse,” explains Newman, referencing the second snow storm that has hit the region in the past month. “We didn’t have to have any special meetings this time, because we just had that, so everyone already knows what each other is going to do and work it like the first blizzard never stopped.
He says as the storm rolls into the area and state highways begin to close, he’ll start adapting.
“We’ll rearrange the furniture in the Emergency Operations Center and set up pods and bring up some monitors. We bring in the CAD system so we can monitor what’s going on.”
Newman says they’ll be keeping eyes on the plow trackers and 511, as well as the power outage maps from NPPD and High West Energy.
He also says they’ll be monitoring local media to ensure the information Region 22 sends out is being accurately transmitted to the public.
Public cooperation will also play a pivotal factor in making his job easier.
“It’s absolutely crucial. We put out warnings and we try to tell people to stay off the roads…. during this time period please don’t park on emergency routes… and when people disregard it they put themselves at risk and they put emergency responders at risk.”
He says stranded motorists throughout the region proved to be one of the biggest headaches during the March 13th storm, but thanked the majority of the public who heeded those travel advisories.
“I’d rather prepare for the worse and have it be nothing, rather than that not prepare and have it be the worse,” Newman added.
Rolling into the evening hours, it will become imperative to ensure that weather conditions allow road crews to do their job.
“Last blizzard, when the blizzard got so strong and so hard that the plow drivers couldn’t see where they were going, we had to pull the plows off.”
He says if visibility again becomes an issue, local plows will be taken out of service until it is safe for those drivers to return to the roadways.
Newman reiterates that Region 22 Emergency Management is prepared for this storm, but everyone needs to do their due diligence and stay safe. He is prepared to spend the night at the Public Safety Building if roads become impassible, adding that it’s important to lead by example.