Georgetown, SC (WorkersCompensation.com) – As tourist locations along the southeastern seaboard shuttered businesses and hunkered down for a rare winter snow storm, employers throughout the Northeast prepared for a “bomb cyclone.”
By Thursday morning, coastal cities from Tallahassee, FL to Savannah, GA to Myrtle Beach, SC saw from snow in amounts ranging from less than an inch in Florida to six inches in South Carolina.
The snow shut down schools and businesses, as well as numerous bridges and roadways. More than 40,000 people in Virginia and North Carolina were without power, the Weather Channel reported on Wednesday evening.
“Snowfall in Georgetown County, known as South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, is a rare event,” said Beth Stedman, president and CEO of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce in an interview with WorkersCompensation.com.
“The impact on the business community varies according to the type of business and how much snow or ice falls in the business' location. With icy conditions and pleas to stay off roads, it had been a fairly quiet day across the county. Schools, offices, many retail businesses, nonprofits, and financial institutions are closed while grocery stores have been packed. A few restaurants are open, but many are closed. Of course, HVAC, plumbing companies, and other service industries have been swamped with calls.”
Stedman said the area will feel only a slight impact because of the storm.
“We will certainly feel an economic impact,” she said. “The cost for brining and sanding bridges, closed business, loss in sales and wages, and repairing any damages will give us a hit, but the snow came at a time when most tourism businesses operate at a slower pace. With warm, almost spring-like temperatures forecast for early next week, shutdowns will be short-lived and we will be back to normal business within a few days.
Icy roads, however, did cause problems for drivers, and as a result, first responders. Multiple wrecks were reported throughout the coastal region. In South Carolina, a Bluffton police car slid off of one roadway and in Hanahan, and a Berkeley County paramedic was hurt by a sliding fire truck that was responding to an accident when it lost control on a bridge.
Neither the Hanahan Police Department or the Berkeley County EMS department responded to requests for comment by press time.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper blamed the storm for at least three deaths in his state.
As the storm reached into the Northeast, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the city, banning driving in the city except in cases of emergency, and making the blocking of city streets a misdemeanor. His declaration mirrored that of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s state of emergency for New York.
In a press conference on Thursday morning, de Blasio said the city had 693 salt trucks out in the city and more than 1,500 snow plows out to clear roads throughout the city. He cautioned residents to stay off the roads to allow sanitation workers to clear the streets and to ensure the safety for not only residents of New York, but also New York city employees.
The storm led to the cancellation of about 3,000 airline flights in the US ahead of the storm’s arrival. Mayor de Blasio said during the press conference that both JFK and LaGuardia airports were not receiving flights in or out.
Federal government offices planned to delay opening for two hours on Thursday, while state officials in Connecticut and Massachusetts ordered non-essential workers to stay home. In Maine, Governor Paul LePage closed state offices for Thursday.
“Travel conditions are expected to be treacherous,” LePage said in a statement. “Avoiding unnecessary travel will keep accidents to a minimum and allow state and municipal road crews to safely go about their work.”
Several insurance providers in the northeast — including AIM Mutual in Burlington, VT; Workers Compensation Trust of Connecticut and Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Co., Inc. — were contacted for comment, but all were shut down due to the weather.
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