The Perry County region was impacted by a winter storm system Feb. 15 that left the area blanketed with several inches of snow and bitterly cold temperatures.
“Road and bridge is working hard and doing a good job,” Wengert said Perry County First District Commissioner. “All of the trucks and graders are out. They are starting early and working late.”
Wengert urged motorists to use caution.
“If you have to get out please be careful and watch for drifting,” Wengert said. “(Hopefully, we’ll have) warmer weather by the weekend.”
Perry County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to 14 minor accidents and slide offs, according to Sheriff Gary Schaaf. There were no major injuries reported.
Perry County Towing reported 86 vehicle incidents within a 30-hour span from Monday morning through Tuesday afternoon.
The (Missouri) state highway department is working hard to keep the roads open, Schaaf said.
As for county roads, Schaaf said crews were out “bright and early” trying to get the county roads open.
“What’s helped is that is not snowing now and it’s not drifting,” Schaaf said Tuesday morning. “Most people just slid off and got in a snow drift.”
In many cases, the response time by deputies was delayed. Schaaf wants those to be patient if they are in an accident, as deputies will attempt to respond as needed.
“We drive carefully and it takes time and need to be cautious in getting out there,” Schaaf said. “The county road crew is working hard to getting these roads opened up, at least for all wheel drive vehicles.”
Additional snow was expected Feb. 18, but Schaaf remained optimistic.
“Things are looking good,” he said.
City of Perryville Public Works Director Jeff Layton said individuals were prepared and working to clear roadways ahead of time.
“We had crews out throughout both nights, Sunday and Monday,” Layton said “We finished grading about midnight.”
Two separate road crews both worked 12 hours shifts, giving attention to the city roadways for 24 hours, Layton noted.
The cold temperatures had the city’s public works department dealing with another issue.
Four water main breaks were reported, and, in one case, the crew spent 19 hours at one spot, at Chloe Street.
“We had to locate it first, then deal with ice and cold temperature, long hours, valves freezing up,” Layton said. “We’ve had a busy weekend.”
Drifting was a concern on roadways, both in and out of Perryville.
“One of the battles we faced is that we graded the roads and it drifted on top,” Layton said. “The snow compacted in areas and made it icy.”
After the snow reaches the area, Layton said road crews are dependent on a couple of factors to help with getting streets cleared.
“You need sunlight and salt,” Layton said. “That should help. We’ll see what it does. The extreme cold and amount of snow we got was a tough battle.”
Of the public works departments 41 employees, Layton said there were more than three dozen helping with snow removal or plowing.
“Only a few weren’t involved in the effort . We had all hands on deck,” he said. “Nearly every superintendent was out doing something.”
The city of Perryville had 13 vehicles and additional pieces of equipment going 24 hours straight to work at clearing roads.
Layton said the focus initially is arterior streets, such as St. Joseph, Edgemont and the Square.
“We focus on the emergency rseponse areas, too,” Layton said. “The fire station, police depaertment, hospital. We try to get at least two passes on every street before we start widening the driving areas.”
Additionally, hilly areas, such as Big Springs, and intersections are higher priority, Layton said.
Other areas that require extra attention are Huber and Schindler roads, as well as streets by Cinque Hommes Creek.
Layton was prepared for more wintry accumulation for later in the week.
“We’re not expecting as much snow this time around,” he said.
In addition to plowing roadways, the city crews put down a mix of both salt and sand as well as salt and cinders.
“We’re still waiting on a shipment of salt,” Layton said.
There were 75 tons to be delivered Tuesday, though the city has 150 tons of salt ordered
“We’ve got enough for probably three passes,” Layton said. “We don’t try to melt every snowflake,” Layton said. “We focus on the icy areas, then try to get the salt down to break it up.”
The freezing temperature also proved to be a hindrance for equipment, making it more suspectible to breaking down, Layton said.
Mark Hoehn of the Perry County Road Department said there were employees were operating five graders and four plowtrucks, as well as a tractor as part of the effort to clear county roadways.
“We were out all day Monday morning,” Hoehn said. “Everything we ran through kind of just blew back shut.”
In terms of a priority, it’s more of just clearing roadways closer to Perryville and moving on from there, according to Hoehn.
“We kind of just work our way out (from Perryville),” Hoehn said. “We’ve got several roads that do drift. We just take off and go.”
Hoehn said those operating the plows and graders cooperate together.
“They do kind of help each other,” he said.
The department didn’t field a lot of calls Feb. 15 regarding road conditions. However, residents were inquiring about roadways Tuesday morning, Hoehn said.
“Everyone is just asking when we’re getting to them,” Hoehn said. “It’s not too bad, considering what we’ve got.”
There were places with reported drifts of three- to four-feet, including places close to Longtown around Perry County Road 200.
Other areas with drifted roadways were scattered throughout the county, Hoehn noted.
“Once we get the road opened up, then we put cinders down if need be,” he said. “We’re making our way from one road to the next. I saw that sunshine this morning. That definitely makes the day go better.”