Temperatures dipped well below the freezing mark Friday, and subzero weather is expected for Monday and Tuesday following a predicted half-foot of snow on Sunday.
That has local agencies like the Red Cross Delaware County Chapter and the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency ready to act.
“We monitor the situation, just like we did for flooding, monitor along with community partners,” said Red Cross development director Sheila Thomas. “We are ready to open a shelter when we are notified there is a need for one.”
Severe cold is treated like any other disaster, she said.
“We can get a shelter up and running any time,” Thomas said. “Our disaster team is on call.”
Delaware County EMA started its preparation for Sunday’s possible six-inch snowfall and Monday’s deep freeze on Friday. The last time Central Ohio saw such frigid temperatures was in 1994, when a January Arctic air forced temperatures between -25 and -30 degrees. A low of -22 was recorded in Columbus.
Delaware County EMA director Sean Miller said his agency works closely with 911 and the Red Cross, and has a plan should the weather create dangerous situations for Delaware County residents.
“If 911 starts to receive calls on people who have lost power or heat or any life threatening condition, we will contact the Red Cross,” he said.
If a small number of families are effected, he said the Red Cross may place those families in a hotel. If power outages start to affect a large number of people in the deep freeze, shelters may be open. He said possible shelters are identified before they are needed and are planned for areas close to the affected area but outside of it.
“We have volunteers ready to man those shelters 24/7 on standby,” Thomas said.
The last time the Red Cross had to open a shelter for cold weather in Delaware County was in February 2011 during an ice storm. The emergency 24-hour shelter served about 30 families at that time, providing a warm place to stay. She said the Red Cross is also prepared to open temporary heating stations, if the need arises.
He said EMA will also work with Connections and Helpline to meet needs of residents.
“Connections and Helpline are good assets because they have knowledge of some of (the shelter resources) we may not have,” Miller said.
He said preparing for potentially disastrous weather is a team effort.
“To be able to draw on these resources in a disaster is what makes the Emergency Management Agency work,” he said.
Thomas said those needing emergency services can call the Red Cross at 1-866-272-5323 or 740-362-2021.