Winter weather is disruptive and even dangerous. It contributes to traffic accidents, power outages, and can inhibit access to basics such as medical support. City employees are working before, during and after storms to mitigate the storm’s impact. Below is a short look at their hard work last week during the Feb. 21-22 winter weather event.
Public Works Street Division crews worked in advance of the storm prepping the City’s streets. There are over 200 miles of streets in Cape Girardeau, which is roughly the distance from here to St. Louis and back on the interstate. Crews used 1,650 gallons of brine and 165 tons of salt on the streets. Preparing the streets and clearing them during and after the storm required over 260 man hours. We received calls and Facebook posts saluting their efforts and we appreciate the public’s feedback!
Our police, fire and dispatch personnel were also very busy responding to car accidents, medical assists and other service calls in and out of city limits. Our on-duty fire department platoon responded to 33 incidents during their 24-hour shift beginning at 7 a.m. on Feb. 21. The activity began at 7:49 a.m., with a chimney fire in a residence, and ran constantly through 4 a.m. the next day when Cape Girardeau Fire Department crews responded to a request in Scott City for a house fire. The incidents included five motor vehicle collisions on various bridges and overpasses up and down Interstate 55 when the freezing rain started, and ten calls for power lines down or arching downward at the height of the icing during the late afternoon and early evening. The severity of the incidents ranged from assisting an elderly woman with her home oxygen when she lost power, to fighting a working house fire on South Henderson Street just after midnight.
During this 24 hour period, our 911 Communicators managed 185 incidents including the 33 Fire Department incidents and an additional 36 police reports. Calls included:
- One incident contained a list of 28 locations where trees were down in the roadway between 4:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. requiring frequent updates to Public Works crews
- Dispatch received a 911 call for medical assist outside the city. Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office and Cape County Private Ambulance were notified
- Car accident north of city limits on I-55 requiring our fire/rescue personnel to help extricate trapped persons
- Sewer backing up in a house requiring sewer division personnel to respond
The peak call times for 911 were between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Feb. 21.
While our public safety and infrastructure employees were ramping up operations, others were sent home for their own safety. City Hall and other administrative offices closed at 3 p.m. Several events and leagues were cancelled for the night.