January 08, 2014 - Heavy snowfall and record breaking low temperatures caused hazardous commutes and school cancellations Monday and Tuesday, after a winter snowstorm dumped over 15 inches in Clarkston and surrounding communities.
With drifts, it was a lot deeper.
"We had drifts in areas that were four feet tall," said Autumn Brandon of Independence Township. "I have lived here for five years, never knew many of my neighbors, every one just keep to themselves. In the last two days, I have seen this community come together like no other. Coming out in shifts to help dig out the cars, even those that didn't belong to you. Some people delivering warm drinks and snacks. It was very heart warming."
Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle said he wants residents to know local fire stations are always open.
"If our residents need to come in and warm up, grab a hot cup of coffee or charge their cell phones they can go to any of our three fire stations which are centered around our greatest population areas," said Kittle. "Our fire stations are fully staffed and always ready to help."
In the event of a major emergency, officials will work with local churches and Clarkston Community Schools to assist residents.
Kittle said the township did receive a few calls for assistance mostly from senior citizens that needed rides to a medical appointment.
"In that case we send out transportation to take residents where they need to go."
Although the Road Commission for Oakland County plows streets, township DPW workers make sure things like fire stations, the police department and other township facilities are plowed out.
Kittle said a planning session with local officials, churches, schools and emergency response officials will be held this month to begin preliminary emergency response planning.
In addition to emergency preparedness, Kittle said everyone should try to help others when times get tough.
"Make sure your neighbors are OK," said Kittle. "Especially the elderly."
Clarkston City Manager Carol Eberhardt agrees.
Some homes in the city have no street parking, and in times of massive snowfall, the city DPW workers need to be able to plow city streets.
Eberhardt said when cars are parked in the street it can really have a negative impact on city workers ability to plow thoroughly.
"It's best to band together with a neighbor and maybe share parking when you need to get your car off the street," said Eberhardt.
Besides clearing city streets of cars another thing residents must do is clear sidewalks even if it's just a small path.
"There is an ordinance that residents must keep their sidewalks clean and if not they can be ticketed for failure to keep sidewalks clean," she said.
Sara Schultz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake, said the storm, Jan. 4-5, was the third snowiest on record in the area since 1921.
"A low pressure system traveled south and through the Ohio Valley," said Schultz.
Michigan received the brunt of the storm, with an area from Flint to Howell receiving the heaviest snowfall. Total snowfall in the Clarkston area was recorded at 15.3 inches after the 30-hour snowstorm.
NWA also issued a wind chill warning through Wednesday morning when temperatures dipped to –14, which shattered previous low temperature records set in 1942 and 1986.
Wind chills were expected to be 15 to 25 below zero on Tuesday through Wednesday morning.
"Such low temperatures combined with the wind chill can quickly cause frostbite and hypothermia if proper precautions are not taken.
Schultz said for the rest of the week temperatures were expected to get back up to normal which is about 30 degrees during January months.
Usually the snowiest month of the year, so far in January, the Flint area has a recorded snow total of 36.9 inches—which is 22.6 inches above normal snowfall totals, Schultz said.
Independence Township can be reached at 248-625-5111. Independence Township Fire Station is located at 6500 Citation Drive and can be reached by calling 248-625-1924.
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.