Travel in Barry County froze as quickly as the ice coated area roadways last week. Schools were closed and area businesses operated on skeleton crews with a large number of local citizens trapped at home because of the ice and snow, which made driving treacherous.
All schools in Barry County remained closed throughout the week as superintendents waited for roads to clear. Sunshine and warmer temperatures on Thursday and Friday gave road crews the help they needed to make some headway in removing the stubborn mix of snow and ice from area roadways.
City's emergency plan
According to Cassville City Administrator Mike Hayslip, the city has a plan in place for dealing with weather emergencies like the ice and snow that fell last week.
When winter precipitation is forecast, Hayslip said city crews inspect the salt-throwing truck to make sure it is working properly and then load the truck in advance with salt and cinders, which are spread at the first ice or snow covering.
Depending on the volume or snow or ice, two-man crews are scheduled on eight-hour shifts that operate around the clock.
"Unless there is an equipment breakdown, like there was early last week, our guys are on the clock working to clear the roads," said Hayslip. "Our city staff gets the job done no matter the discomfort or inconvenience to them."
Crews focus mainly on clearing main streets, which are highly travelled. Once those main streets are made passable, crews focus on secondary streets that are located on hills and within subdivisions.
Hayslip said the city relies on one 1996 Ford F-700 dump truck to clear its streets. The vehicle is equipped with a 10-foot snow plow and salt thrower attachment. Each year, the city spends approximately $2,000 on salt and cinders.
"This amount might only cover one significant storm during a season," said Hayslip. "It is a fine balancing act to buy the right amount of materials for the storms we think might come while applying the remainder of all available funds to other necessary city projects that benefit the community at large."
With only one truck, snow removal from city streets is not a quick process, Hayslip said.
"If we had more money available, we could purchase more and better equipment, which would speed things up," said Hayslip. "Reality, being as it is, means we do the best we can with the tools and resources we are afforded."
The majority of Barry Countians held onto their power during the ice storm. The hardest hit areas appeared to be the Eagle Rock, Golden and Shell Knob portions of the county where Carroll County Electric Cooperative officials reported that 1,000 Barry County residents were still without power on Friday.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Central Crossing Fire Station in Shell Knob to assist those without electricity living in the lake area. Area residents utilized the shelter while they waited for their power to be restored.
Bill Shiveley, general manager and chief executive officer of Barry Electric Cooperative, said his crews responded to only six or seven outages last week. Outages were reported in the McDowell, Washburn and Seligman areas, and Barry Electric crews were able to get power restored in about one hour in the case of each of these outages.
Last Thursday, two Barry Electric employees left for Poplar Bluff to help restore electricity to the boot hill area of the state. Kevin Holloway and Johnie Hendrix volunteered to help restore power to thousands of customers who have been without it for over a week.