Two major winter storms in five days brings plenty of bad, a little bit of good
Just when Platte County thought it might escape the clutches of Old Man Winter, that ornery old geezer got the last laugh.
After a mostly snow-free winter, two nasty snowstorms in the span of five days crippled not only the County, but much of the Midwest. On Feb. 21, nearly one foot of snow fell, one of the largest area snowstorms in decades. Then, early Tuesday morning, as Platte Countians had pretty much cleared most of that blizzard away, another wicked winter storm blasted the area with upwards of eight inches of fresh snow.
In both storms, schools, government offices and many businesses shut their doors, in some cases the day before the storms hit. Roads were impassable at times during the Feb. 21 storm and nearly so Tuesday morning. That meant road crews — from the state level to the County level and on down to the municipal level — worked long hours to clear them for motorists.
Platte County Public Works Director Greg Sager said County road crews clocked in at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday to begin the arduous task of clearing approximately 250 sq. miles of roads in unincorporated Platte County. Sager said many of his public works crew of 16 who did not live in Platte City spent Monday night at a hotel in Platte City to ensure they could make it to the County Public Works facility just outside Platte City on Highway 273 in Tracy.
“We thought it might hit around midnight, but it was a little later, so around 3 a.m. I went up to Comfort Inn and woke everybody up,” Sager said Tuesday morning. “We’ve been at it ever since and we will probably go until early evening.”
Sager said his crew worked about 24 hours non-stop last week to clear roads from that storm, and he expected about the same amount of hours for this week’s storm for a total of approximately 720 man hours. He also said that for the two storms combined, he estimated the County would use 300-400 tons of salt and sand.
Sager said he had not yet put a dollar figure on all those expenses and fuel costs, though he added that the County had budgeted for most of the expense.
“We were fortunate that we got a load of salt in on Monday because we were running pretty low,” Sager said. “We also serviced all of our equipment on Monday, so we had just enough time to get ready. We budgeted for all of these things, but you don’t want to use it all up in a week.”
Area municipalities also felt the strain such storms impose in the way of increased salt/sand usage and extra work hours for crews to clear city streets.
Platte City City Administrator DJ Gehrt said last week’s storm monopolized the time of the City’s public works department.