Guilford County government has terminated the countywide State of Emergency that went into effect on Wednesday, Feb.17, as an ominous ice storm approached.

The storm brought down some trees and shut power off to plenty of homes and businesses in the area– but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some had predicted. 

With most of the ice melted, the roads passable and the temperatures warming up, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston announced on Friday that the county would be able to lift the State of Emergency.

Alston, after consulting with other county leaders, had put the State of Emergency into effect at 5 p.m. on Wednesday based on Article 1A of Chapter 166A in the NC General Statutes, and under Article II of Chapter 7.5 of the Guilford County Code of Ordinances – which allow the county to declare storm-related emergency states.

In North Carolina, a State of Emergency can be declared when a current situation – or an impending one – could lead to major damage or loss of life or property.  The threat can be either from a natural or man-made cause.

 It allows county leaders to do things they might not ordinarily be able to do – namely, it gives them the flexibility to react quickly during a crisis.  That can mean putting restrictions – such as curfews – on people in the county, and it can also do things like allow a county manager to purchase needed supplies or equipment immediately without going through the ordinary, often lengthy, government bid and procurement process.

North Carolina and Guilford County residents have become intimately familiar with state and county States of Emergency through their ubiquity in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  During that type of disease-related emergency, the county’s health director becomes extremely powerful, with the ability to shut down businesses or entertainment events. 

Guilford County government used emergency powers on a scale likely never seen before in 2020.