Most Maumelle residents will remember 2012’s White Christmas storm as one of the largest and most troublesome snow storms in the history of Maumelle, if not the whole state.
Maumelle Fire Chief George Glenn said his fire and emergency staff was probably taxed more with answering 45 calls on Dec. 25, 26 and 27.
He said the freezing rain started things off on Christmas Day sticking to trees and everything else in town only to be followed by 8 to 10 inches of heavy snow.
All of the precipitation came with temperatures having recently dropped to ideal conditions for the rain and snow to accumulate on everything.
Some residents said twice as much rain and snow appeared to stick to trees, bushes and everything that wasn’t moving creating a dangerous situation.
The biggest problem the fire department had to deal with first was the trees down blocking several streets around town.
Glenn said fire staff started clearing the roadways with at least room for a fire engine to get by with the help of public works employees and Maumelle residents who just wanted to help.
Glenn thanked those residents for their assistance because not only fire but police and ambulances needed to be able to make it through city streets to assist residents in need.
Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services ambulances were able to get through but their response times were greatly impacted by the snow which hampered their arrival. Consequently, Maumelle Fire and Rescue stayed on the scene much longer than normal, Glenn said.
A lot of those 45 calls were false alarms set off by power failures, Glenn said. It also included a few auto accidents and a few chimney fires. He said many residents used fireplaces for the first time in years without having done the maintenance required to clean out the chimneys of the buildup of combustible materials.
Fortunately firefighters were still able to get to the homes soon enough to prevent any major damage.
Automobiles left abandoned in the roadways also created problems and other issues as alarms went off on those and many other vehicles parked in driveways from the buildup of ice and snow.
“Flu fires, auto alarms and no service home security alarms” were the majority of the calls they answered, Glenn said.
But they also answered calls about gas leaks and even a call on Saturday, Dec. 29 with a ten-year-old stuck in waist deep water because his feet were stuck in the mud about 100 yards off of Lake Valley Drive.
Glenn said the boy’s parents had tried unsuccessfully to remove the stuck youngster and Fire and Rescue team members were able to free him by cutting the left boot off his foot.
MEMS was called to check on the youngster and he was not transported by MEMS but his parents took him by private vehicle to be checked out.
While concern for the youngster possibly drowning was one issue, the biggest concern was fear of hypothermia. Glenn said in such damp, cold and wet conditions over an extended period, hypothermia was a real concern and should be for all residents who might be exposed to the elements for a long period of time.
The amount of snowfall varied across town and there were higher snowdrifts but the estimated snowfall was 8 to ten inches, Glenn said.
Fire Department volunteers were called in and paid staff that was off-duty was also called back in on Christmas Day and on the 26, Glenn said.
Maumelle Police Chief Sam Williams said they also called in all officers and many slept when they could at the police station to be close to work as needed. He said he had nothing but praise for the entire police force who not only answered a multitude of calls but who helped free the roadways of the trees and limbs that had fallen blocking them.
Both departments said they were inundated by calls of relatives checking on elderly parents who were concerned when they couldn’t reach their parent via telephone.
In most cases when the power failed, so did the telephone service. But in one instance, two Maumelle elderly residents couldn’t hear their phone ringing because they were so engrossed in a TV movie with the volume turned up so loud it drowned out the ringing of the telephone, Williams said.
Glenn said Maumelle residents may not realize it but their power outages were much shorter than many Little Rock residents who still are without power a week later. The underground power lines in Maumelle prevented a lot of problems but the transmission lines supplying them power is exposed and they did succumb to the buildup of ice and snow.
Entergy crews would get power back on for those transmission lines and then turn back on neighborhoods as they could.
Glenn said the now was unusually heavy and seemed to stick to everything.
Williams said he was proud of the group effort of police officers to not only do their jobs but to do so with compassion for Maumelle residents who were suffering from no electricity and poor driving conditions.
But as usual, he said many of the problems were caused by people who just had to get out and try the roadways without a legitimate reason to do so.
His staff did a terrific job, Williams said and one of their biggest jobs was just checking on the welfare of senior citizens who were without power. And his officers did everything in tough working conditions, he said.
Not only police officers but the entire Maumelle work force stood up and answered the call and put in not just extra hours but extra efforts to assist the city’s residents and won the admiration of not only Chiefs Williams and Glenn but from Mayor Mike Watson who applauded their dedicated sacrificial service.
Everyone involved agreed it was a Christmas snow storm they won’t soon forget.