Despite equipment breakdowns, blizzard-like conditions and extra-long hours on the clock, Harvey County staff members weathered the winter storm last week to keep county roads open and community members safe.
"Our guys performed admirably," Jim Meier, county road and bridge superintendent, said of his staff. "They responded however they were needed, wherever they were needed, for however long they were needed."
Snow started falling on Wednesday last week and blizzard conditions persisted through Thursday. Harvey County Emergency Management coordinator Lon Buller estimated about a foot of snow fell on the county during the storm.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton reported while there were not many serious accidents, there were quite a few vehicle slide-offs.
Meier said most community members used caution and didn't try to venture outside unless they had to.
"I think they heeded the warnings, they avoided the roads," he said.
Meier reported clearing the roads brought some challenges for his staff members. Due to the storm, visibility was poor, and his crew also had to deal with some equipment malfunctions and had to call a mechanic in. One staff member worked 18 hours straight to help get the work done, and staff also helped some stranded motorists then refused to accept cash from those motorists in exchange for the help.
He thanked school administrators for being proactive about closing the schools due to weather; closing the schools cut down the traffic on the roads and made it easier for road and bridge crews to do their job, he said.
He encouraged people to be patient and understanding during major weather events. Even though crews work as fast as they can, it can take time to clear roads. Commissioner Chip Westfall said sometimes it can take 48 to 72 hours to complete the clean-up after a snowstorm.
"The snow was coming down at such a great rate, we prioritized paved roads first," Meier said. "It was all anybody could do to stay ahead."
Commissioner Ron Krehbiel thanked the county road and bridge crews, the sheriff's department, and other county staff members for their hard work during the storm.
"I was very impressed," Krehbiel said.
County crews likely will have to head out on the roads again soon. Buller was predicting up to eight inches of snow could hit Harvey County on Monday.