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Criminals – and Others – Chill Out During Royal Oak's Big Chill

Things are slow but demanding during the arctic blast.

It seems as if residents are heeding advice from the Royal Oak Police Department to keep driving to a minimum and remain indoors as much as possible.

Here's a round-up of conversations Royal Oak Patch had with various services around town Wednesday morning:

8 weather-related injuries reported


The Beaumont Hospital Emergency Center saw no frostbite injuries on Tuesday, indicating people are layering up and using protective gear – such as hats, mittens and gloves – when they do venture outdoors.

Beaumont reports only eight weather-related injuries in its Royal Oak emergency center, including five people injured in motor vehicle accidents and three slip and fall injuries. 

"While we may have spinouts in this kind of weather, there are less accidents than you would think because people tend to drive slower,” said Lt. Dave Clemens of the Royal Oak Police Department.


Criminals chill out


Clemens also reports, generally speaking, crime has a tendency to go down as temperatures fall below zero.

"Our case reports – things such as burglaries – are definitely down this week," Clemens said.

For police, it's routine duties that become demanding during a deep freeze.

“For example, if we get an alarm call, an officer will go out to the building and get out of the car and walk around the structure to check all the doors and windows,” Clemens said. “That’s a lot easier to do when it’s 30 degrees versus 30-below.”


Library attendance down, library cards issued up


The number of people making a trip to the Royal Oak Public Library has been significantly lower this week, according to Mary Karshner, director of the Royal Oak Public Library.

“The biggest challenge we faced at the library was that about one-third of our staff couldn’t make it into work on Monday,” said Karshner.

While the library saw a significant drop in users, there was still a lot of “scrambling” to do, she said.

“We had less demand, but fewer people to handle it,” Karshner said. 

The library also functioned as a warming center during the polar-like weather conditions. While library hours were not changed, staff worked with police to arrange transportation to overnight shelters for anyone that did not have a place to go when the library's doors shut.

The one surprise the staff noticed was there was an increase in the number of first-time library cards issued over the weekend – perhaps an indication that residents were making plans to take advantage of using the library from home. (Read School Closed: Use the Library from Home on a Royal Oak Snow Day.)


Major roads in decent shape


City Engineer Matt Callahan has been out looking at the roads and says they appear to be in decent shape. 

Royal Oak doesn’t have as many asphalt patches on major roads as some of the surrounding communities, according to Callahan, and it’s those patches that “push up” during the cold weather and cause potholes.

The city engineer also says he's not worried about flooding and storm sewers overflowing as temperatures rise to near 40 degrees by the weekend, but he's not ruling it out.

“We might have some localized flooding, but for the most part, a foot of snow does not have as much water in it as you would think,” he said.

Once temps hit 20 degrees, salt on the roads will be reactivated and start melting the snow.

“The snow melting will likely be a slow process,” he said.


Check your car battery


Patch also checked in with Fourth Street Auto to see how cars around town are surviving the bitter cold.

"We're seeing a lot of weather-related battery problems," said Bill Park. "Batteries get weak in cold weather."

A battery has a normal life expectancy of four to five years, Park said, but to keep it fresh and prevent a "no start," he recommends replacing it every three years.

Laura Harrison January 09, 2014 at 11:46 AM
I had a water pipe issue at the store and called the police department (not 911) to get a couple of answers. They were very helpful and patient. Thanks guys!
Judy Davids (Editor) January 09, 2014 at 04:02 PM
That's great to hear Laura. I hope your pipe problems are resolved.

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