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Storm leaves trash piles, school makeup days

Charlotte’s recovery from this week’s prolonged bout with winter weather should take a big step forward over the next several days, with temperatures expected to reach 50 degrees Friday and into the 60s by Sunday.

And Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, perhaps looking at the snow-caused meltdown of traffic Tuesday in Atlanta, praised reisdents and public employees of the area for the way they handled the wintry weather.

But left behind from this week’s winter storm are uncollected trash and missed days to be made up on school calendars.

The thermometer passed the 32-degree mark early Thursday afternoon, the first time that Charlotte had been above freezing since early Tuesday – a span of 60 hours. The less-harsh temperatures, while still well below the average for this time of year, allowed much of the snow and ice left from Tuesday’s storm to melt.

Most area school systems are expected to operate under normal schedules Friday, after the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and many neighboring systems were closed for two days.

CMS Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark said school officials made the decision to close Thursday after a briefing with principals, transportation supervisors and city transportation officials.

“Most of our students are picked up by buses on secondary neighborhood streets, so we need to be sure that conditions on those roads are safe,” Clark said.

The number of vehicle crashes Thursday morning was much lower than on Tuesday and Wednesday, but temperatures Thursday morning were frigid. Charlotte recorded a low of 7 degrees – the second-coldest reading in the city in a decade, trailing only the 6-degree low on Jan. 7.

It dropped to 3 degrees in Salisbury, 4 in Statesville and 5 degrees in Wadesboro.

With temperatures rising, Mecklenburg County officials closed the warming station they had operated for two days at the county’s Homeless Resource Center on North Tryon Street.

Meanwhile, Cannon said the Charlotte weathered the storm well. He said road maintenance crews, police, firefighters, transit workers and others helped prevent major problems. The Carolinas managed to avoid the problems experienced in Atlanta, where a similar amount of snow – 1 or 2 inches – caused traffic gridlock, leading motorists to abandon their vehicles in roadways and forcing students and others to sleep overnight in schools and other makeshift shelters.

“I would like to express my appreciation to our front-line responders – the unsung heroes who worked behind the scenes to keep our facilities open, services offered, and our equipment maintained,” Cannon said.

And state officials in both Carolinas said life was returning to normal after a storm that left several inches of snow and ice accumulated in some section.

In the Charlotte area, one of the problems left from the storm is trash pickup. Charlotte and a number of other cities in the area suspended trash collections late Tuesday, and routes went uncollected Wednesday.

Charlotte’s Solid Waste Services did not collect trash Wednesday and started Thursday on a two-hour delay. Residents have been told to leave their bins at the curbside until trash is collected. It is possible that crews won’t finish some routes until Saturday.

And the city is not collecting yard wastes until next week.

Trash pickup also is behind schedule in most other communities across the region.

This week’s weather also has left some bills to pay.

Area residents will face much-above-average electricity and natural gas bills over the next few months.

And the region’s students will have to pay back the days they missed to wintry weather this week.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will make up misses classes on Feb. 17-18, eliminating what would have been a four-day Presidents Day weekend.

The Union County Schools are using Feb. 17 and March 7 as makeup days, and Gaston County has Feb. 17 and March 14.

Cabarrus County students, however, will be in the classroom Saturday, as a makeup for Wednesday’s snow day. Cabarrus school officials say they are using Saturday as a makeup day to prevent tapping into spring vacation.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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