EM Director: 'It looks like things seem to be going in the right direction'

Poteau Daily News Advertising Representative Michelle Wann shows what her yard looks like at her residence near Monroe. LeFlore County Emergency Management Director Dennis Yochum said that once the temperatures begin warming up starting Thursday that things should start improving. PDN photo by Michelle Wann
David Seeley
PDN Editor

Now that Ol' Man Winter seems to be starting to move out, LeFlore County Emergency Management Director Dennis Yochum said that maybe things can start getting back to normal.
"Currently right now (11:45 a.m. Wednesday) that I can tell outside of the electrical and natural gas situation, it looks like things seem to be going in the right direction," Yochum said Wednesday morning. "I haven't heard of a bunch of water breaks or water outages. If they've happened, I haven't heard about them."
The two winter storms were definitely significant, but Yochum said in some aspects things could have been much worse than they were.
"It's pretty bad," he said. "We've got frozen pipes all over Poteau as far as I know. As far as the temperature goes, I think it was what they predicted it was going to be, but I don't think the snowfall was as bad — and that could be a life saver on that end of it. They were expecting us to get close to a foot of snow, and my front yard (Wednesday) morning had seven inches when I measured. That's a pretty good savings when you're talking about a foot of snow compared to seven inches. There may be other areas outside the city limits of Poteau that got more than that, but we didn't get near what they were calling for."
Arkansas Oklahoma Gas (AOG) made a tough decision by asking major businesses such as restaurants to cut back on their natural gas consumption so the power grid would not go out as AOG tried to help keep its home customers warm.
"As far as I know, the only businesses closed are some of the restaurants are closed," Yochum said. "That's because they got e-mails from AOG saying they were not going to have any gas. I know Mazzio's is closed because they don't have any gas. (AOG) cut off their gas. Si Señor in Wister is closed due to no gas. AOG is doing that so they can keep residents warm (inside their homes). Outside of that, I haven't heard of any other businesses closing, but if they don't call me and tell me, I don't know."
The main message the new LeFlore County Emergency Management director wishes to convey is to not get out unless absolutely necessary.
"If you don't have to travel, please don't travel," Yochum said. "Let the road crews do their jobs. They'll get the roads cleared. Maybe we can be back up to normal. Temperatures are supposed to start warming up the next couple of days. Any temperatures we can get started warming up, we'll be able to get some of this stuff broke up, moved out and cleaned up."