Winter Storm Harper dumped more than a foot of snow across most of Akron Saturday and into Sunday, leaving a lot of residents stuck over the weekend.
It's understandable, especially when it comes all at once as the snow did over the weekend.
Monday was the Martin Luther King holiday for Akron Public Schools and Tuesday was declared a "snow day" by Superintendent David James. By Wednesday, students were ready to head back to school, but the city wasn't. By the end of the day Wednesday, a report from APS spokesman Mark Williamson was that a total of 19 school buses wound up stuck in snow and needed assistance getting out. (Update: Thursday morning 8 more school buses were stuck, according to Williamson.) Williamson said not only is it up to the city to clear the streets, but it's also up to Akron residents to clear their sidewalks, to help the students who walk to school get their safely. Otherwise, Williamson tells us, there are students walking in the streets, which is obviously dangerous.
Back to the roads, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan spoke with the Ray Horner Morning Show on 1590 WAKR, saying there is no excuse for the excess snow that remained through the holiday and into Wednesday, and that the city is doing everything to prevent a repeat.
Read the full statement from the City of Akron below:
First, an apology. We have failed to provide a timely level of service to all City streets in response to this storm, and we are sorry.
We apologize to the Akron community for the inconvenience and frustration our response has caused. The level of service we provided has fallen short of what our residents rightly expect. While we have devoted 100% of our available City resources 24/7 to plow and salt all primary, secondary and residential streets following Winter Storm Harper, the results of these efforts have been unacceptable. We appreciate the patience the Akron community has extended this week. We have heard your concerns and we will do better in the future.
Mayor Horrigan has directed the City to immediately reassess every policy, procedure, agreement and route and to make necessary changes to our approach to ensure that future snow events are addressed effectively and efficiently from day one.
What we are doing right now:
The City has deployed every single vehicle and piece of City equipment capable of removing snow and ice to work to clear City streets and plow every residential neighborhood as soon as possible. The City has deployed 7 private contractors to augment the City’s efforts and plow residential streets in tandem with our crews. They will use graders, backhoes, plow trucks and bobcats to increase our snow removal capabilities. We have established emergency mandatory overtime with the ultimate goal of opening every street in Akron before the next weather event. The County of Summit is also assisting with available truck and equipment. Public Service has called in all city workers from Sewer, Water and Public Works that are not in plow trucks to start the process of cleaning storm inlets. All together there are more than 100 vehicles currently activated within Akron to remove snow and ice from city streets.
The City will be enforcing the parking ban when necessary to clear streets. Some cars will be towed. Residents are reminded not to park on the street until the ban is lifted and all streets are clear. Due to rainfall and melting snow, there are areas of standing water. Drivers are reminded to drive slowly and cautiously in these areas.
The City has been experiencing intermittent failure of both the online 3-1-1 portal and our 3-1-1 phone line. However, every City street is on the list to be plowed, whether a 3-1-1 request is received or not. Streets are prioritized based on traffic patterns, and all streets will be plowed as soon as possible.
What is coming next:
Winter Strom Indra and freezing temperatures are on the way. Icy streets are expected in the coming days. Residents are urged to prepare accordingly. The parking ban on primary streets will likely remain in place until the accumulation from Winter Storm Indra has been cleared. The City’s all-hands-on-deck approach, including the use of private contractors will continue through the next storm event.
Sam Salem CLC was evacuated just after the morning bell Wednesday after a small fire in a boys' bathroom.
Mark Williamson with Akron Public Schools says that while the fire and all of the damage was contained to that one room, smoke had spread to other areas of the school. That is why they had to evacuate the building.
As of 9:30 a.m., all 350 students were safely transported to nearby Kenmore High School while Akron Fire assessed the damage. Students' parents were notified via robocall, Williamson said, and were told that they can pick up their kids at Kenmore H.S. any time. Williamson said Kenmore would accomodate the students as long as possible and that parents would need to bring a valid ID with them when they pick up their children.
As for how the fire started in the bathroom, Williamson told 1590 WAKR, "At the grade school level, you kind of wonder; who has matches at a grade school? But we have to figure that out still, and the fire department can figure that out for us."
Williamson says the school district will notify parents regarding the status for classes on Thursday.
UPDATED 4:50 a.m. The victims of Saturday's fire that left four dead and two injured were identified by their pastor. Rev. Zach Prosser of Celebration Church in Akron told Cleveland.com the adults are Omar Riley and Shirley Wallis, who had been together for 12 years. Their daughters, nine year old Aniyla and and eight year old Shanice, also perished in the blaze. Prosser identified the 12-year old victim as Wallis' daughter Shaniya, who was listed in critical condition at Akron Children's Hospital.
Another victim, Jennifer Grubbs, was also injured when she jumped out of the attic from the flames according to her fiancee. He was not in the home at the time of the fire. The flames first showed in the back of the house according to a neighbor's home security camera video, according to reports.
An early morning Saturday blaze left four people dead, two injured. The Akron Fire Department reports the house fire at 266 East Tallmadge Avenue was "heavily involved" when they arrived about five minutes after the call at 1:33 a.m. Arriving firefighters were able to pull five of the six victims from the home. Among the dead are an eight and nine year old; News5 reports a 12-year old jumped from a second floor window to escape the flames and is in critical condition. An adult was also pulled from the home and was also injured.
Video from the scene is at the News5 link above
Names and other details of the victims were not released. There is no cause of the blaze at this time.
No smoke detectors were found in the home, which reportedly was a rental property. The American Red Cross is reminding area residents smoke detectors are free throughout northeast Ohio, and the Akron Fire Department provides free installation in partnership with the Red Cross. Mayor Dan Horrigan said he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy...and will see to it hat the victims' families and the survivors are supported in this time of great sorrow and need."
The children were enrolled in Akron Public Schools, one at Seiberling Elementary and another at Forest Hills Elementary. The 12-year old is a student at Hyre Middle School. APS spokesman Mark Williamson said ""Akron Public Schools and its community of families are profoundly saddened by this loss of two precious children and other members of their family. Three of our schools have felt this tragedy, deeply, and will be visited by our counselors this week for assistance. We offer our heartfelt prayers."
There was also reaction from LeBron James and the LeBron James Family Foundation; the children were members of his Wheels for Education program. James tweeted he was "unbelievably saddened to hear the news. My heart hurts...our family lost two bright, bright stars."
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(Akron Fire Department) Firefighters responded to a two and a half story residential house fire. Upon arrival the first floor was heavily involved in smoke and flames. People were reported to be trapped inside so an immediate interior fire attack was taken for rescue. The call came in at 01:33 and by 01:38 the first Engine was on scene.
Through the heavy heat and smoke (no visibility) 5 of the 6 victims were pulled from the house within the first few minutes of arrival. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it was noted that smoke detectors could not be located throughout the house.
The fire caused four fatalilties. Two adults and two children, 8 and 9 year old. Two other victims were transported and are still ithe hospital. Unknown condition at the time of this press release. Names, relationships, and genders were not given while investigation is on going. One firefighter was transported for minor injuries and released.
(American Red Cross) We are deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from a home fire in Akron early Saturday morning. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this tragedy.
The Red Cross partners with many Fire Departments in Northeast Ohio, including the Akron Fire Department, to provide and install smoke alarms, free of charge, to any resident who requests the alarms. We also provide valuable fire safety information, and help residents develop plans to escape from their homes should a fire occur. The initiative is call Operation Save-A-Life.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan helped launch Operation Save-a-Life at a home in Akron earlier this year.
Akron residents can call 330-535-2030 to request a home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarms. In Cleveland, residents can call 216-361-5535. Youngstown residents may call 866-319-7160. Elsewhere
throughout Northeast Ohio, residents can log onto redcross.org/neo to request smoke alarms for their homes.
We are grateful for our partnerships with so many fire departments, corporations and community groups for helping to provide this valuable, potentially life-saving service, and we urge all residents to check their homes for working smoke alarms, and to contact us at the numbers or website above if they need smoke alarms for their homes for working smoke alarms, and to contact us at the numbers above.
(City of Akron) Early this morning the Akron Fire Department responded to an advanced-stage fire in a three-story house on East Tallmadge Avenue.
The Fire Department acted quickly to extinguish the flames and rescue the individuals inside. Tragically, two adults and two children lost their lives in the fire. One adult and one child have survived and are being treated for their injuries.
"My family, the Akron Fire Department, and the entire Akron community, are profoundly saddened by this devastating incident. Any time our community experiences a loss such as this, it reminds us how precious life is," said Mayor Dan Horrigan. 'My deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family members of those who lost their lives, as we continue to pray for strength and healing for the survivors being treated. We will see to it that the victims' families and the survivors are supported in this time of great sorrow and need.
There is no higher duty we have as city leaders than to protect the health and safety of our residents and I thank the Akron Fire Department for their bravery in responding to this fire and for their attempts to rescue those trapped inside. I offer my full support and confidence as the professionals work to investigate the cause of this fire."
(Akron Public Schools) "Akron Public Schools and its community of families are profoundly saddened by this loss of two precious children and other members of their family. Three of our schools have felt this tragedy, deeply, and will be visited by our counselors this week for assistance. We offer our heartfelt prayers."
Ellet High School will open again for students Wednesday.
Ellet High has been closed this week after cleanup crews spent the past few days clearing smoke and water damage from Saturday night's fire inside a construction classroom on the first floor.
Containment walls were built around areas directly affected by the fire, allowing students to return to classes in the rest of the building.
The investigation into what caused the fire continues.
(Earlier coverage) Ellet High School remains closed Tuesday as clean-up crews continue to ready the school for students after Saturday night's fire inside a construction classroom on the first floor.
Akron City Schools Communications Director Mark Williamson says it's a matter of safety for the students of Ellet. While the fire was mostly contained to that one classroom, smoke spread throughout the building and left a lingering smell which could be harmful to anyone occupying the building. Water damage is also a factor, as fire crews used their hoses to extinguish the blaze. Williamson says there is potential to continue clean-up efforts while students are back in the classrooms, containing certain affected areas with containment walls, but they want to be sure it's completely safe before doing so.
They expect to have the clean-up wrapped up soon, but they're not rushing things at Ellet High. The investigation into what caused the fire, meanwhile, continues. Fire investigators have not designated the fire as accidental, nor as arson, as of Tuesday.