Grayson Co. officials begin reviewing ice storm response and damages

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TEXAS -- Grayson County commissioners decided to not renew the county's disaster declaration Tuesday; the declaration will now expire Saturday.

While the county is still dealing with problems from the ice that's here, the conversation at Tuesday's meeting quickly turned to what can be done better next time there's another winter storm.

While many schools and businesses remained closed Tuesday, Grayson County commissioners held a special session, asking the questions that many at home are also wondering.

"Why don't we have more road-clearing equipment? Why didn't we do this or that on county or city streets?" Emergency Manager Sarah Somers said.

Somers says, based on the few winter storms in North Texas, county officials did not budget for this ice storm.

County officials estimate at least $5 million in damages, while Judge Drue Bynum declared a disaster, in hopes of receiving federal and state funding.

"We were seeing the costs mounting for the response and knowing that we had issues with damages to critical infrastructure and roadways," Somers said.

State Representative Larry Phillips was in Grayson County during this arctic blast, helping with emergency response.

As chair of the House Transportation Committee, Phillips is now looking into the shortcomings, and how to better prepare for winter weather in the future.

"There's some new technology as far as trying to deal with de-icing that we're already going to be looking exploring," Phillips said.

Phillips says the state needs to have the best equipment available to de-ice roadways, but it's a financial problem.

"The taxpayers say we don't want to spend too much government, but at the same time, when we have this need, we have to, and that's the balance we have to deal with budgeting," Phillips said.

Meantime, residents are wondering why more hasn't been done to remove ice from roads.

Somers says while TXDOT is charged with clearing U.S. and state highways, cities clear their own city roads, but some Grayson County cities, like Sherman, ran out of resources to do so.

Somers says civic leaders will be reviewing that issue in coming weeks.

"It's not just all dollars and cents: it'll be looking at where our plans worked and where our plans did not and how we can do things better next time," Somers said.

Somers says if the county receives state and federal funds, she says that money will go toward public damages only.

Residents would have to cover any personal damages themselves.

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