January 7, 2014

Sub-zero temperatures chill Oskaloosa

By DUANE NOLLEN The Oskaloosa Herald
The Oskaloosa Herald

---- — OSKALOOSA — Sub-zero temperatures arrived in Oskaloosa Sunday night and shut down much of Oskaloosa on Monday.

Sunday afternoon, Oskaloosa Community School District officials announced on the district website the classes Monday would be canceled. In an interview late this past week, Superintendent Russ Reiter said the decision for school cancelation depended on the temperature and wind chill.

The temperature in Oskaloosa was -7 degrees at 9:40 a.m. The mercury did not climb much more as it was -2 degrees at 1:08 p.m. The National Weather Service had issued a wind chill warning that would be in effect until noon Tuesday. The wind chill was -30 degrees at 12:53 p.m. Monday, according to the National Weather Service website in Des Moines.

Temperatures will gradually rise during the rest of the week. Today, the high will be 9 degrees with a low of 3 tonight. Wednesday, the high will be 16; Thursday, the high temperature will be 21 and Friday the high will reach 34, according to the National Weather Service website.

While temperatures had plummeted, Mahaska County Emergency Management Agency Director Jamey Robinson said no warming shelters had been opened in the county.

“We have not opened any shelters and do not foresee opening any,” he said. However, Robinson said he he made some contacts to set up shelters if they were be needed.

Besides the school district, the Mahaska County Senior Center staff also canceled the meal program Monday.

“It’s a rule of thumb that when the Oskaloosa school system is closed, we don’t do meals,” Senior Center Site Manager Cheryl Brown said.

The senior center staff will call other partner agencies such as the Christian Opportunity Center, which delivers meals; the Agency on Aging Board; and the transit authority, which picks up people for congregate meals, to decide if the kitchen would be closed, Brown said.

“We don’t close on a whim. It’s a group decision,” she said.

The senior center staff also calls its clients about any decision to not serve meals.

“We call all of our clients. If someone needs a meal, we will deliver a frozen meal. The clients are not forgotten.”

When the senior center staff has advanced warning of impending bad weather, they will call clients to see if they want extra meals delivered to get them through the stormy weather, Brown said.

“We do our best to make sure we everybody is OK” in regards to heat and electricity. “It’s not just about meals,” she added.

While the noon meal was canceled, the senior center doors were still open if anyone needed a warm place to stay.

“The building is always open if someone needs warmth,” Brown said.

Brown said a group that likes to play cards always meets at the senior center on Mondays. However, the group canceled its meeting.

“It’s smart for people to stay home,” she said.

Brown said the senior center should serve meals today.

“It should be above the negative temperatures,” she said. The staff will “play it by ear.”

The sub-zero temperatures also had an effect on some water pipes around the city.

Around 11 a.m., Oskaloosa firefighters were called to the MHP Hospice Serenity House for a burst sprinkler head.

“I’m sure it’s cold-related,” firefighter Tim Nance said. Oskaloosa Care Center also had a burst waterline earlier in the morning, he added.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com