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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Storms have left a mess for the area to clean up

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A city of Sikeston Pubic Works employee moves limbs that had fallen on North Kingshighway Tuesday morning
(Photos by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Although the freezing rain and sleet have stopped falling in the area, it's still a dangerous situation outside, and the storms have left a mess to clean up, as well as left some with injuries.

Deanna Lindstrom, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky., which also serves areas in southeast Missouri, said that freezing drizzle and a few light spits of snow were in the area through Tuesday evening. With temperatures in the mid to upper 20s, most of that precipitation froze on the roadways.

And how long it will stay that way isn't yet certain. Highs for today were predicted to be near 32 degrees, which Lindstrom said is "border line." However, with a high of 46 degrees anticipated for Thursday, it should all melt away soon.

Crews are out working to keep the roadways clear.

"We've been out since it started yesterday -- through all last night and we'll more than likely be out tonight as well," Keith Gentry, maintenance superintendent at the Missouri Department of Transportation's Sikeston office said Tuesday afternoon.

Bryan Lane climbs into his car as Mike Fuqua, an employee of Gene's Tree Service, prepares to cut down a tree on Gladys Street
The department's priority is to clean interstates and major roadways, then minor roadways.

"The biggest problem we're coming into now is the trees down," Gentry said. "We're just trying to get through and keep the roadways open right now."

When called, the only road closure in the area had been Highway 61 in Benton, which was closed mid-morning Tuesday to clean up debris from a fallen tree. The road reopened in less than an hour.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said limbs blocking roadways was a problem through the day, which he expected to continue overnight. "It's stopped sleeting and raining, but the trees are still falling," he said.

Gentry, as well as Capt. Jim Hailey of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety, agreed that black ice became a big problem by late Tuesday morning.

"People are hitting black ice and we're getting rollovers," he said. "And once you get out of town, it's really bad -- the salt is leading people into a false sense of security."

By early Tuesday afternoon, DPS responded to 13 total accidents, nine of which were rescue runs, said Hailey.

He and other officials only expected the situation to get worse as the day went on, and until the temperatures rose above freezing to begin to melt the ice away.

Hailey warned that until all the ice has melted, people need to be cautious of where they stand, as well as park their vehicles. "(High objects) will go without warning," he said, advising people not to get under power lines, trees, towers or other high objects. "And once (the ice) starts melting and breaking off, it's like spears."

Staff in the emergency room and express care at Missouri Delta Medical Center have seen "several falls and several auto accidents," said Terry Paxton, clinical director.

Paxton said that although those injured in auto accident were traveling at low speeds, "they were still going a little too fast for the conditions."

Those who fell suffered arm injuries for the most part, Paxton said. "Probably from trying to catch themselves."

To keep from falling, Paxton urged cleaning a pathway to and from one's vehicle, with ice salt if possible. It's also a good idea to keep a cell phone and make sure someone else knows you are getting out.

And for those who do fall, Paxton had some advice. "Try not to put your hands out in front of you to catch yourself -- try to roll onto the side and back, it distributes your body weight," she said. "And wear rubber-soled shoes, or something with a grip on the bottom of it."

But it's not just people getting hurt -- property is, too.

Bryan Lane of Sikeston suffered a big loss when a tree limb fell on his car Monday evening.

"I called my insurance, and they told me to get the car moved," said Lane, who lives on Gladys Street. "But as busy as it's been, nobody could come out here."

Around 3:30 Tuesday morning, the situation got even worse, when more debris fell on his car. Now, the damage is more severe, with a busted windshield, hood problems and several dents.

"And now I can't get ahold of my insurance company," Lane said late Tuesday morning.

Towing companies were quite busy during the two-day period.

"It's been very busy," said Kay Blagg, dispatcher for Satterfield's Wrecker Service Tuesday. Since the ice storm first hit, Satterfield's has responded to at least 50 calls, she said, "anything from a passenger car to tractor-trailers overturned."

"I'm working a wreck right now," said Mike Partin at Sikeston Auto Service when called for an interview for this article.

And when it comes to getting out, almost everyone had the same advice: if you don't have to get out, stay inside.