Chapel Hill begins snow clean up

In the aftermath of a winter storm that made roads dangerous and left residents stranded across town this week, Chapel Hill started to clean itself up Thursday.

The town towed at least six abandoned vehicles from Chapel Hill streets Wednesday, according to a press release.

Chapel Hill police Lt. Mitch McKinney said police tried to avoid towing abandoned vehicles that weren’t obstructing traffic. Instead, they encouraged residents to return to their vehicles when it was safe to do so.

McKinney said there weren’t as many collisions or abandoned vehicles as police were expecting.

“People in the area did what we asked them to do,” McKinney said. “They planned ahead and knew enough not to tempt Satan.”

McKinney said police do not have any preliminary information about the number of collisions in the area.

As of Thurday evening, 105 power outages had been reported in Orange County, according to reports from Duke Energy.

Chapel Hill hotels received an influx of reservations after the winter storm postponed the men’s basketball game between UNC and Duke University Wednesday — leaving many fans who had planned on going home stranded in town.

Most of Wednesday night’s guests at the Carolina Inn were there for the Duke game, but few people canceled their reservations, said the inn’s reservations manager Charmain Cale.

“People actually were able to arrive,” she said. “We didn’t receive as many cancellations as we’d anticipated.”

And those who were only booked for one night left without issue Thursday, Cale said. But many people who came for the Duke game planned to stay for several nights.

“We had maybe a third of our reservations stayed over,” she said.

The Franklin Hotel had no vacancies Wednesday night.

“People were just stuck in Chapel Hill,” said Basia Wilczek, an employee at the Franklin Hotel.

“The cancellations we had were from people who couldn’t get into Chapel Hill. People (making) reservations last night couldn’t leave.”

Wilczek said many Franklin Hotel employees still couldn’t make it into work Thursday.

As crews continue to clear roads, police encourage residents to be cautious and only leave their homes when absolutely necessary.

“We did have a snowman battle and several snowball fights,” McKinney said jokingly. “It’s actually been pretty low key. We haven’t had many calls for service.”

Assistant City Editor Holly West contributed reporting.

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