An icy mix that coated the area overnight Wednesday was a catalyst for slick roads and widespread power outages in the region.
The storm threatened to dump multiple inches of snow, but the area mostly saw a few inches capped by the icy mix that made for slick travel conditions in some locations through Saturday morning as it melted and refroze.
Duke Energy outage maps showed nearly all outages in eastern Wake County had been restored by Saturday morning.
Much of Wendell was without power throughout the majority of Thursday, some areas even going as long as Friday before being restored.
Bobbi Jane Duke, who lives on the Zebulon side of Riley Hill Road, lost power about 4 a.m. Thursday and didn’t get it back until about 9:30 a.m. Friday. Ironically, just one road to the north on Cunningham Road, her brother never lost power.
“We went to my brother’s about 5:30 (p.m.) Thursday and stayed there Thursday night since we couldn’t cook, couldn’t do anything,” Duke said. “I happened to call to call my house about 9:30 (a.m.) Friday and since the answering machine came on I knew power had come back on.”
Knightdale town spokesman Brian Bowman reported that the roads were in good condition throughout Thursday, thanks to cleanup crews starting at 4 a.m. in the morning and finishing around 1:30 in the afternoon. Another town road crew followed the early morning crew at 7 a.m.
“Together those crews hit it pretty hard and heavy,” Bowman said. “There was just enough melting to make it slushy ... people did a good job staying off the street.”
Knightdale authorities said that no unusual number of accidents occurred Thursday.
Although many restaurants were closed early Thursday, those that stayed open hosted waves of residents looking for heat and warm food.
Zach Strother, general manager at the IHOP on Knightdale Boulevard said that though they opened two hours late at 8 a.m. because of a brief power outage, their service had been steady most of the day.
Their business was “way busier” than a normal Thursday.
“We seem to be pretty steady anytime that it snows, when electricity’s out for people, they’re looking for warm food and we’ve got it,” he said. “We do the best we can to get people warm food and we’re happy to serve.”
In Zebulon, public works crews finished applying brine to all in-town streets about 7 p.m. Wednesday in anticipation of the coming weather. A four-man crew returned at 11:30 p.m. to begin plowing once two inches of precipitation had accumulated on the roadways.
Remaining crews joined at 6 a.m. Thursday and started working to clear sidewalks and entrances to town facilities.
“We got out early because we were scared we were going to get so much snow and wanted to be ahead of it and not behind it,” said Zebulon Public Work Director Chris Ray.
Ray’s team continued plowing through Thursday afternoon, only breaking to set up an emergency power generator at town hall at 8 a.m. and for lunch. Most all town streets had two lanes open by about 3 p.m.
Duke Energy was receiving reports of power outages in Zebulon as early as about 2 a.m. Thursday.
“We were surprised the amount of power loss that had occurred,” Ray said Thursday afternoon. “It’s fairly widespread – we lost it at municipal campus, several restaurants, at Walmart.”
Zebulon police Chief Tim Hayworth estimated power had been restored to about 60 percent of the town by 2 p.m. Thursday, when he said the town was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Between the police and fire departments, we cleaned some limbs out of the roadway and had some reports of limbs down on parked vehicles,” Hayworth said. “We’ve had a few accidents, mostly slide-offs into the ditch and needing to be pulled out and that sort of thing.”
Cindy Privette said power at her farm north of Zebulon was out for just three hours, from about 9 a.m. to noon Thursday. A primary power line to Zebulon runs through her land, which she said led to her power being restored sooner than it was for others in the area.
“I’m grateful every day for the ancestors that allowed the power company to come across this property,” Privette said. “The first thing I did was turn on the coffee pot.”
Staff writer Kara Bettis contributed to this story.
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