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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

Ice wreaks havoc for businesses, drivers

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SIKESTON -- Sleet, freezing rain, rain and other precipitation smacked down on the area Monday and Tuesday, creating several problems. The treacherous roadways made driving risky, and covered power lines led to outages and other problems.

The surges in power as well as communication issues, like downed Internet services, made it difficult for workplaces to be efficient on Tuesday.

"It really has interrupted business as usual," said Missy Marshall, executive director of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce. The SACC office closed at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Also closing early was Sikeston City Hall and some other businesses, such as Bootheel Counseling Services and the Kenny Rogers Children's Center.

"And some are cut down to a skeleton crew and others just going in to check messages," said Marshall. "If they don't have to be open, they seem to be opting not to, and I can't blame them."

With the icy roadways, several business cut hours or staff just to ensure employee safety, she added.

Lt. Jim McNiell, commander of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop E service center in Sikeston, said that traffic was "extremely light" on Tuesday morning. However, people started getting out on the roadways around 11 a.m., which led to an increase in calls.

"We're having minor slide-offs, resulting in minor property damage, but no serious injuries," he said.

Interstate 55 was backed up Wednesday afternoon due to weather conditions and other problems were caused along area roadways due to downed power lines.

As of Tuesday afternoon, troopers were responding to several calls an hour, said McNiell. With four officers working the Sikeston area, however, response time was good.

But still, as road conditions often become worse toward the end of the day as temperatures drop and the winter mix refreezes on roadways, McNiell again urged people to stay of roads if law enforcement continues to caution against it.

"That's the safest thing you have going for you," he said. "But if you do need to go out, go slow and take your time."

Motorists who must get out should be prepared, said McNiell. "Have a half tank of gas or more in your vehicle, blankets and a fully-charged cell phone. And dress warm."

With longer stopping distances on icy roadways, McNiell reminded drivers to "maintain a more considerable distance between you and the vehicles you are following."

And once the ice melts, motorists should still be wary of minor slick spots, such as black ice on bridges and shaded area. "Be very cautious," said McNiell.

But several people appeared to heed the warning to just keep indoors.

Danny Tetley, owner of Pizza Inn, said "phones are ringing off the wall." The delivery time, which is normally about 30 minutes, was one and a half to two hours during Tuesday's lunch hour.

Tetley said, however, the roads were mostly clear, which made deliveries less treacherous.

"I can't brag enough on the road crews," he said, referring to city, county and state workers. "I think they've done a great job of keeping up."