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After two winter storms hit southern Iowa back-to-back, Mount Ayr city crew members took a much needed break on Monday, observing a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
City crew members worked until 8:30 p.m. last Thursday to clear roughly 6 inches of snow that fell the first part of the week. Then they returned for a 16-17 hour day on Friday after a second snow storm blew in 8-10 more inches.
“We recorded 9 1/2” of snow out by the wastewater treatment plant,” city administrator Brent Wise said, “that was a combination of snow falling between Friday and Saturday.”
Both snow and garbage were cleared Friday, doubling the typical work load for a short handed crew.
Snow plows were back out clearing snow for nearly 8 hours on Saturday, and an additional 3-4 hours on Sunday in Mount Ayr.
“It wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t just got the same amount two days before that,” stated superintendent Wise.
The city is currently sitting near budgeted funds for over time pay, after this snow event.
“We are barely over the budgeted amount,” Wise stated.
However, the city is now left with giant piles of snow around town, and no money remaining in the budget to move it. Administrator Wise anticipates needing to contract out moving snow to the parking lot at Judge Lewis Park.
Ditches are full across the county, and roads are narrow as snow builds up along rural roads. Some areas are like tunnels, with 5-7 feet of snow piling up on either side of the road.
The Ringgold county sheriff’s department reported receiving approximately 17 calls from motorists who went off the road or were stuck in the snow between Monday, January 8 through Sunday, January 14. They responded to one additional call the following Monday.
Jared Johnson, Ringgold county engineer said county crews and V-plows were still out trying to get roads opened as of Monday, January 15.
Friday and Saturday were a wash, as roads were drifting back shut, according to Johnson.
“Sunday was the first day we were able to make progress,” stated Johnson, “we are still out working.”
The fierce, below freezing temperatures made matters worse, as crew members battled equipment gelling up.
“We haven’t had a storm like this for several years,” Johnson said, “all we did was push snow last week.”
Johnson says while the county budgets for materials like sand, salt and fuel for snow falls of this type, he worries about subsequent events.
“If we get another snow fall of 6” or more, it may be a week or better before we can get roads cleared,” Johnson says.
He advises county residents to be prepared by keeping food and water on hand in the event they get snowed in.