Polar Temps Strain Heating Systems

ST. MARYS — As frigid temperatures continue to grip the region, plans are in place to open warming stations should they become necessary.

Two weeks after the Polar Vortex sent wind chills plummeting to minus-40 degrees, polar temperatures have returned. Temperatures have struggled to reach double digits this week and forecasters are calling for temperatures to continue to hover near zero early next week — a scenario that is taxing heating systems throughout the nation.

Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson said he plans to contact local utility providers to monitor for any outages or supply issues. Earlier this week, Gov. John Kasich issued an emergency declaration to expedite propane shipments into the state — a source of heating fuel for much of rural Ohio. The edict suspended state and federal laws to require propane suppliers to stay off roads on the weekends.

“We are basically on standby alert for the county,” Anderson told The Evening Leader. “I have designated warming centers, however they are on standby set up. We are not opening them up yet. They are ready to go if we need them. I also have been in contact with the Red Cross director.”

Warming stations would be manned by volunteers and Red Cross personnel. Anderson said if the need arises, he would open warming centers in areas with the greatest need.

“I’ll be reaching out to the utility companies and as long as they are still on the grid, we’ll be OK,” Anderson said. “We will know right away if there is an outage and how long an area will be affected and then we could get these warming centers ramped up.”

Anderson also encourage residents to keep an eye on elderly neighbors during the cold spell.

“They cannot deal with the cold temperatures as well,” Anderson said. “I am proud to say that in this area, we are more tight knit than others ... We are saying just reach out to your neighbors. It only takes five minutes and a caring moment to make sure everyone is OK. My biggest hope is that we don’t have any tragedies.”