Winds delay clearing roads, angering drivers

Staff writer

Snow removal crews across Marion County mobilized Sunday only to find their efforts thwarted by Mother Nature.

Bud Druse, road supervisor for Marion County Road and Bridge said his crews mobilized around 5 a.m. Sunday to remove 1 to 3 inches of powdery snow from county roads only to find 20 to 30 mph wind gusts making their job impossible.

“By 11 a.m. Sunday we had to stop plowing because the wind was drifting snow and closing streets as quickly as we could plow them,” he said. “It was a never-ending battle, and we just had to stop fighting it. Mother Nature got the best of us.”

The county’s 12-member crew returned to plowing at 5 a.m. Monday after winds had died down.

This was too late, however, to dig some residents out in time for them to make it to work.

Juliana Neuwirth and her husband, Duane, spent Sunday and Monday trapped in their home on 320th Rd. between Remington and Sunflower.

“My husband was due back to work at Agco today after a shutdown, and he hates missing work,” she said Monday. “I had to work yesterday and couldn’t make it either. I hate that it takes so long for them to get out here.”

She said crews actually made it to their house earlier in the day than they usually do, just a day late.

“Usually we see a plow or grader by noon the day after it snows, but today they actually got here around 8 a.m.,” she said. “We didn’t see a grader at all Sunday.”

She and her husband leave for work by 4 or 5 a.m.

“It hurts paying our bills when we can’t make it to work,” she said.

To pass time on her unexpected day off, Neuwirth made sugar cookies.

“I’m actually bored,” she said.

Candace Green of Burns said her daughter, Tobey, had a college test to take in Wichita, but she almost missed it because of the drifting over.

“She had to make an appointment for the test a month in advance,” Green said. “It is an expensive test, and there are no refunds.”

Tobey’s brothers went with her, but they were stopped two miles from home.

“The kids got stuck in the snow because Marion County did not bother to blade the drifted snow off the roads,” Green said. “The kids walked to a neighbors and borrowed snow shovels and attempted to dig the car out, but it was too deep.”

They then borrowed a neighbor’s van and were able to make it into Wichita.

“What a great neighbor,” Green said. “What a disappointment Marion County is on road maintenance. Poor Tobey. What a stressful way to start a test.”

Jean Stuchlik also missed a morning of work at the newspaper office, and said she did not see another living soul except her husband, Alex, all weekend because she was snowed in.

“It was drifted too deep for even a four-wheel-drive to make it down the road,” she said. “So I didn’t see any cars or anybody until they cleared the road around 11 a.m. Monday.”

Jeff Harper, Marion city foreman, said city crews began clearing snow around 9:30 a.m. Sunday but also had to break because of the wind.

It did not take long for residents to experience slick spots, one being the jog on Main St. at Cedar St.

“We started back up (Monday) morning to clear our emergency snow routes, around the schools, and churches,” he said.

Monday afternoon crews continued salting and sanding.

Wind did not stop crews in Peabody and Hillsboro crews battled the snow despite the 30 mph wind gusts Sunday.

“We had no delay from the wind,” said Ronnie Harms, Peabody interim public works director.

He expected to be finished plowing the town by Monday afternoon.

In Hillsboro, city administrator Larry Paine said crews began clearing streets around 5 a.m. Sunday and were still working to get all secondary streets on Monday.

“I saw a couple of guys out Sunday afternoon battling despite the wind,” he said.

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