Mark Twain is well known for his observation that “everybody talks about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it.”
The Sequoyah County Commissioners were among those who talked about the weather at Monday’s weekly meeting.
While July temperatures are flirting with the century mark, the commissioners were reminded of a time two years ago when recordlow temperatures were the main concern.
It was Valentine’s Day 2021 when a brutal winter storm paralyzed the county for more than a week, and plunged temperatures below zero.
The ice storm on Feb. 14 encased everything in the county, and was followed by four to six inches of snow accompanied by bone-chilling temperatures that bottomed out at minus-10 on Feb. 16. Highs during the 10-day period were often in the single digits, and were exacerbated by rolling blackouts, broken water lines and calls by utility companies to conserve electricity and natural gas usage. Many businesses closed in the wake of the storm as residents sheltered in place, and students transitioned to virtual learning.
The county’s emergency management office is now in line to receive funds related to the icy disaster that had the county at a standstill.
“Back in February of 2021 when we had the severe ice storm and freezing, we applied for a grant at that time to help with some of the funding for that. Right now, some of the federal funding is just now starting to come down on that,” Sequoyah County Emergency Management director Garrett Fargo reminded the commissioners.
District 1 Commissioner Ray Watts concurred and provided additional insight.
“There’s a lot of money through the State of Oklahoma that counties and cities have, basically, been awarded, but never have gotten,” Watts said.
“I think this is one of them,” Fargo noted, citing a DR 4587 severe winter storms statelocal agreement for disaster assistance for emergency and major disasters. “This is something we’ve got to sign so that we can get reimbursed from that winter storm that we had.”
District 2 Commissioner Beau Burlison recalls the impact of the 2021 storm.
“It was quite an introduction to county commissioners when that storm hit,” Burlison said. “We had about a month and 10 days of good weather, and all of a sudden that hit. It was an eye-opening experience.”
“It was a mess,” Watts pointed out, and Burlison agreed.
The commissioners then approved the agreement by and between the state and the county, clearing the way for the county to be reimbursed for funds expended to address the disaster.
Then Jonathan Teague, deputy director for the county emergency management, addressed recent weather patterns that have made July uncharacteristic for Oklahoma.
“Last Thursday and Friday morning, we had a cell come through that dropped a lot of rain,” Teague told the commissioners. “The Mesonet site up at Cookson just north of Marble City recorded almost five inches of rain happening in an hour. [The cell] died out as it moved south, but it dropped a lot of rain.
“One of the interesting stats I noticed today was that when we started this year, 81% of Oklahoma was in a severe drought. Now, in the middle of July, it’s only 8%. We’ve had a tremendous amount of water in Oklahoma this month. We were actually in a moderate drought til last week, but that pulled us out. Now we’re just dry. But that doesn’t include the big cell that moved through Thursday. I think once that hits the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), then we’ll probably be out of everything.”
But Teague warned that temperatures this week will be hot, and the county is in a heat advisory for much of the week. But he said there’s a possibility for severe weather by the weekend.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Accepted a bid from Fensco for six-month road materials for the county’s three districts, which would be through Dec. 31, accepting the bid based on “proximity to and availability of materials.” Fensco joins 22 other companies who were previously awarded the road materials bid with the same caveat. Fensco’s bid was postmarked by the submission deadline, but was delayed in postal transit.
• Approved renewal of a cylinder lease agreement between Airgas and the county.
• Approved reimbursement to Sequoyah County 911 an invoice in the amount of $8,064 from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to Muskogee Communications for upgrades to new radio system.
• Approved a declaration of surplus for seven vehicles — 2013 Chevy CW, 2011 Chevy Tahoe, 2011 Chevy 4×4 pickup, 2011 Chevy 4W TSP, 2011 Dodge 4D CPO and two 2010 Chevy Tahoes — from the sheriff’s office. The vehicles are all headed to auction.
The commissioners meet at 10 a.m. Mondays at the Sequoyah County Courthouse.