This week in history

March 11, 2014 

Laura Hopkins, right, helps 3-year-old son Johnathon up a Knightdale park climbing pole on one of the first sunny days after a span of wintry weather in 2004.

2004 FILE PHOTO

This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was happening in the eastern Wake County area.

This week we focus on ice appreciation. While winter weather is terribly annoying at times, it is rarely as devastating as summer storms and hurricanes. So enjoy the slippery sidewalks and impassable roads while they last... the alternative is usually worse.

In 2004, a set of storms hit eastern Wake County. However, because the weather wasn’t throwing a fit of irregularity, the results were rather different. In 1989, the storm woes were much the same. And in 1964, we take a break from the storm stories to look at Zebulon’s efforts to stop something much more dangerous than any storm.

2004

There’s a saying in North Carolina. “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes; it’ll change.” The weather here is known to be as temperamental as the Greek gods who were said to control it in ancient times. With the recent cold snaps, it’s easy to forget that ice and snow isn’t the normal weather for early March. However, while snow and ice are certainly troublesome, they are often not nearly so dangerous as their summertime counterpart.

Howling winds and driving rain heralded the arrival of a strong band of thunderstorms in eastern Wake March 7. In the storm’s wake lay downed trees and power lines that kept emergency and power crews busy for hours.

The band of storms rolled through the area around 9 p.m., dumping heavy rain and packing 50-60 mph wind gusts that snapped tree limbs and threw debris into roadways. Fire crews from Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon were dispatched on several incidents involving downed power lines as a result of the storm.

As of Monday morning, despite clear skies and cooler temperatures, Progress Energy had its hands full restoring power to local residents. Representatives said about 3,000 people were without power in Wake County.

1989

Continuing on our storm streak, 2004 brought its own icy blast of winter weather.

The third winter storm to whirl through the area in the past four weeks proved to be the most hazardous and damaging so far this year. Marked by freezing rains, sheets of ice and a dusting of snow, the midweek blast made driving treacherous and even walking a challenge.

Thousands of homes suffered power outages as frozen tree limbs snapped under the weight of the ice and snow. Kermit Anderson of the Carolina Power and Light office in Zebulon said that most of the trouble occurred Wednesday night as line crews were forced to work around the clock.

CP&L crews were not the only ones slipping and sliding on the job. The Zebulon, Knightdale and Wendell post offices were among the few in Wake County to provide service to their customers Wednesday morning.

Thanks in part to school and business closings, a Zebulon police official reported that there were few accidents during the two-day freeze as most drivers stayed off the road.

Comparing the 2004 and the 1989 weather, it becomes clear that while icy weather may freeze towns in their tracks for a day or two, the damage they do is usually minimal compared to the havoc a strong thunderstorm can wreak.

1964

No bones about it: storms are dangerous. They can often be deadly. But in the end, there’s little that can be done about them, and most of the damage done is to replaceable property. Preventable diseases like polio, however, threaten the most valuable thing we have: human life. And in 1964, the world was still fighting the paralyzing disease of polio with vaccines to prevent infection.

Wakelon and Shepard Schools will be stations for the distribution of oral Sabin vaccine, Mrs. Ben Thomas, polio drive co-chairman, announced this week.

Plans have been completed for the massive oral Sabin vaccine campaign which is designed to wipe out polio in Wake County.

Fifty-two oral polio feeding clinics have been organized throughout the county for the first “Stop Polio” feeding on Sunday, March 22.

The Sabin vaccine is a clear, tasteless liquid which is placed on a cube of sugar and fed to older children and adults. No injection is required. Infants over two months old may be given the Sabin vaccine by dropper, spoon or paper cup.

Taken in three doses four weeks apart, the oral Sabin vaccine provides lasting protection from crippling polio for each person who receives it. At the same time it will help break the chain of transmission by stimulating intestinal resistance to future infection.

Since the development of the polio vaccine, worldwide cases of the crippling disease have been reduced from hundreds of thousands to under a thousand, with the disease expected to be eradicated in the future.

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