HANCOCK COUNTY — Hancock County officials have downgraded the county's travel advisory status from red to orange but are still encouraging residents to remain indoors.
Hancock County and the majority of surrounding counties were all classified as a red travel advisory level, the state’s most serious classification, Sunday night. The red level indicates only emergency traffic should be on the roads, and motorists who attempt to drive in the storm could be liable for damages if their vehicles become stuck and must be pushed off the road to make way for plows or emergency vehicles.
Officials downgraded the county’s status to orange shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, noting that most major roads and secondary roads are now passable. Many roads do remain snow- and ice-covered, however.
Hancock County Commissioner Brad Armstrong said people should still use precaution and only go out if necessary.
“If you have to go to work, go to work; if you’re out of medication, get medication,” he said.
Armstrong was the one who made the decision Sunday night to go to the red travel advisory level at the suggestion of emergency officials throughout the county and city.
As of about 11 a.m. Monday, county roads were fairly clear, Armstrong added.
“Under the circumstances they’re doing a pretty good job,” he said. “It just takes a little bit of time when you get so much snow so quick and then the cold temperatures on top of that. But we didn’t have any major issues last night.”
As expected, public safety officials responded to a variety of slide-offs and minor accidents related to the weather, but there were no reports of anyone being stranded in the storm as of Monday morning, Larry Ervin, director of Hancock County Emergency Management, said in an email to the Daily Reporter.
The county’s two largest law enforcement agencies, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Greenfield Police Department, had considered calling off routine patrols in favor of centralizing officers in specific locations during the storm, but that proved unnecessary. Instead, the department instituted temporary policies of responding to serious emergency calls only, Ervin said.
Law enforcement officials said the orange-level status should not encourage increased travel.