The large amount of snowfall the city and county received this week put a halt on some operations and businesses, but officials say the area may return to some degree of normalcy Friday.

Cherokee County Emergency Management Director Mike Underwood said the area received around 6-7 inches of snow, and said there was an additional 1-2 inches of dusting throughout the day on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

"It's slick to say the least, and I've noticed people were in hurry to get where they were going. I did see a couple of cars where they slid off the road and into a yard, but they were OK," said Underwood.

As far as any major issues, Underwood said he's received calls from residents in the Tenkiller Harbor area.

"There's a lot of folks out there [reporting] that their water meters have frozen up and they can't get water into their house," said Underwood. "They still have power and they still have heat, but they don't have water, so we've been talking with those folks -- trying to help them out -- and at least steer them in a direction of where to go find water."

Underwood said this could be an issue for more residents as the snow begins the thaw.

"We could start seeing some waterline breakage throughout the city and the county. There's not much to do about that until it happens," he said.

Experts advise people to leave their taps running to avoid frozen pipes.

Tahlequah Public Works Authority General Manager Mike Doublehead has said waterline breakage is concerning him as well.

"Water is going to be an issue over the next few days in terms of waterline breakage when things start to thaw out," said Doublehead.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Dry Creek was without water, and the Cookson Fire Department had a water distribution from 1 to 5 p.m.

"Water outages are expected for Dry Creek, Blue Top, and Highway 82 South within the next several hours," District 3 Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire stated on Facebook. "This outage could last up to a week or more."

Nofire said they recommend residents turn off their water until service is fully restored.

"When water is restored to these areas, there will be a boil order for these areas only," said Nofire.

Sheriff Jason Chennault said deputies were mostly responding to motorist assistance calls Wednesday.

"It's not as bad as I figured it would be and we're getting around alright," said Chennault.

Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said he's seeing "normal" issues with roadways, under the circumstances.

"Roads are a little rougher today and we still had four in the shelter," said King. "The thing we've been dealing with the most the last few days is mental health transports. We've taken at least three in the last two days."

Underwood said the Tahlequah Fire Department and officers have responded to several calls throughout the week, and he expected more calls to come in as the day progresses.

TFD responded to three service calls, three alarms, and one EMS assist call, since Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Eric Foster, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Public Information officer, said concern for troopers isn't the roadways, but the cycle of thawing and refreezing throughout the week.

"The problem with the snow is we had a lot of stranded motorists, and with that snow going away, that's going to be our problem," said Foster. "Our problem will now be collisions, and that's what we're really watching as all of this starts to melt."

Foster said main roadways are passable, but secondary roadways with less traffic are not.

"We're noticing that people are call star 55, our emergency line for the OHP, and they're unaware of where they've crashed," said Foster. "We're noticing that more and more, and I think people are relying a lot on map apps and things like that."

Foster is urging drivers to pay attention to mile markers and what intersections they've crossed to help pinpoint a location for responding troopers.

"It's taking us awhile to find them because they can't give us an accurate description of where they are," he said.

Lake Region Electric Cooperative is reporting its system power demands are lower than what was seen Tuesday morning.

"Although our power provider is currently not planning intermittent service interruptions, we highly urge our members to conserve electricity until this major winter event is over," LREC stated. "Our members have done an excellent job in helping reduce the demand for energy, which helped avoid the rolling blackouts to our system yesterday."

Doublehead said on Wednesday, Feb. 17, that the Southwest Power Pool remained at an Emergency Alert Level 2.

"If we get elevated to a Level 3, that's when we would anticipate the possibility of controlled outages," said Doublehead. "It's not just Tahlequah; it's our entire region and what the call for energy is and what the demand for energy is."

District 2 Cherokee County Commissioner Chris Jenkins said road crews began blading and sanding at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. District 3 Commissioner Clif Hall and his crew were out plowing roadways Wednesday morning.

Solid Waste Superintendent Chris Armstrong said trash wasn't being collected Wednesday, but with weather permitting, it will be picked up Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Armstrong asked residents to have their trash out on the curb as soon as they can.

Cherokee Nation casinos and businesses are extending their temporary closures through 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, as the region continues to face utility shortages and inclement weather.

This impacts all 10 entertainment destinations, including nine Cherokee Casinos and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Other business operations, including cultural sites, will resume normal operating hours on Friday morning.

All employees who were scheduled to work during the extended closure will be paid for their shifts.


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