Jump to Level 3 kept crashes at bay


The decision by two former Toledo beat cops to jump right over Level 2 to declare a Level 3 weather emergency on Sunday helped usher in a relatively mishap-free response to the extreme winter storm that blew through Lucas County Sunday and Monday.

Mayor D. Michael Collins, in his third full day on the job, and Sheriff John Tharp, starting his second year as sheriff, made Lucas County the first in northwest Ohio to declare a Level 3 weather emergency Sunday afternoon, giving citizens four hours' advance warning of the heavy snow then on its way, to be followed by extreme cold and bitter winds into Wednesday.

“Both of us came to the agreement, and it was his call. After listening to all of the experts and listening to the opinions, it was our decision that that was the way to go,” Mr. Collins said, in reference to a meeting of emergency and public service officials Sunday afternoon. The sheriff announced that only emergency and other essential media and medical personnel would be allowed on the roads after 5:30 p.m. Indeed, area roads were almost empty by sunset.

Mr. Collins said he and Sheriff Tharp conferred privately before making a decision.

“We’ve known each other all of our adult lives. I mean we worked together on the street [as Toledo police officers],” Mr. Collins said Monday, while in his 22nd Floor office in Government Center wearing jeans and a University of Toledo sweatshirt.

The early Level 3 call gave Franklin Park Mall the nudge it needed to shut down early.

The mall had planned to reopen Monday at 2 p.m., but ended up staying closed for the day because of ice and drifting snow .

Hollywood Casino Toledo also closed ahead of the travel ban, ushering patrons out at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The casino reopened at 6 p.m. Monday, said John McNamara, its marketing operations manager.

Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Romules Durant said the Level 3 call on Sunday afternoon didn’t play a big part in his decision to call off school on Monday. “I think we all just made the decision based on similar information,” Mr. Durant said.

At-large City Councilman Rob Ludeman fielded only three complaints about snow removal, but said he would like to have been kept abreast by the administration.

Mayor Collins said he notified council President Paula Hicks-Hudson of the meeting Sunday and briefed her by phone Monday morning.

Lucas County previously declared Level 3 weather emergencies in February, 2011, and February, 2007.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.