A 24/7 response

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Southwest Missouri is emerging from a deep freeze that seemed to bring activity to a halt for almost two weeks. With over a foot of snow on the ground, subzero temperatures added insult to injury and made snow removal efforts extra challenging. Most area residents prepared for the worst and kept off the roadways during the height of the winter storm. As a result, there were very few accidents reported, and road crews and emergency workers were able to focus on the tasks at hand rather than spending all their time rescuing stranded motorists who shouldn't have been out in the first place.

This week, we'd like to thank local and state road crews for a job well done. This wasn't the type of winter weather where the roads could be cleared quickly with a little salt and a few passes with the snow plow. Instead, road crews had to work 24/7 to stay on top of the wintery mix that just kept coming.

Missouri Department of Transportaion crews had the main highways driveable on most days. I made daily trips back and forth to Monett on Highway 37, and I witnessed their efforts first hand. It seemed as if trucks were constantly traveling up and down the highway clearing a path for motorists. It was also nice to receive updates on road conditions via email and Facebook, and an online road condition map on the MoDOT website was also a helpful tool for safe driving. MoDOT has become a very customer-centered organization, and that's not an easy feat to pull off when your customers are the taxpayers of Missouri and all the millions of people who use Missouri roads. That's a lot of people to please, but MoDOT seems to be able to accomplish that on a regular basis, especially when they provide quick, around-the-clock service during a major weather event.

Similarly, City of Cassville crews and road district personnel worked hard to clear city streets and county roads under harsh conditions. The city took a new, more systematic approach to how they handle the snow, and it seemed to work well. Members of the city's public works department also worked around the clock and were able to clear streets as quickly as the weather and equipment would allow. Major streets in the city were cleared first so citizens could have access to the hospital, clinics and local grocery stores. As is always the case, snow removal efforts often lead to a secondary problem of huge mounds of snow that can also cause havoc for drivers trying to maneuver through town. City crews used back hoes and dump trucks to remove those piles once roads were cleared. I also want to note that city workers were out in force this past Sunday clearing more snow from around the downtown square. Crews were working as late as 6:30 p.m. on Sunday to make sure the business week started off with a square clear of snow.

During major snow events, most of us are able to stay safely at home, away from the elements and the dangers posed by heavy snow, ice and frigid temperatures. While we're warm and toasty, area road crews are working on our behalf, putting in long hours under uncomfortable conditions to make sure we can get out and about as quickly as possible. Their efforts often go by unheralded, and this week, we want to change that. On behalf of the local community, we want to thank each and every snow plow driver and road crew member who worked so hard to clear our area roads. If you ever doubted it, please know you are appreciated.