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Expect snow removal delays amid staff shortages due to COVID-19 surge

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 23:32:46-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As storms head into the Kansas City area, there are about 200 drivers working overnight to pre-treat and clear the roads in Kansas City, Missouri. The city will add another hundred tomorrow.

Many of them aren't used to this kind of work.

As preps for this storm are underway, those behind the wheel may just be getting the hang of it.

"We are actively recruiting and training other staff from other departments around the city to really have all hands on deck for snow operations," Maggie Green, a KCMO spokesperson said.

As was the case during the last storm when KCMO City Manager Brian Platt was pretreating roads in the Northland.

On Friday evening, the city of Independence also shuffled employees around because a quarter of their shift for snow removal is out sick with COVID-19.

The surge in cases is a curve-ball for agencies who were already bracing for staffing shortages.

Back in November, KSHB 41 News reported how the Kansas Department of Transportation had 30% less workers.

"And since then, there have been fewer than 10 applicants in the entire northeast district," Delaney Tholen, KDOT's KC metro public affairs manager said Friday.

And so, Drake Jennings, area superintendent for KDOT is making do with what he has.

"[It'll take] a little bit longer than what it would normally take us depending on how much snow we get," Jennings said. "But we'll knock it out just as quick as we can."

Overland Park is also asking patience from its residents if we get a considerable amount of snow. 

"It takes roughly 24 hours after the snow ends for all streets that have been touched," Meg Ralph, a spokeswoman for the city of Overland Park said. "That doesn't mean let's clean, that doesn't mean bare pavement. It means that we've been to your area 24 hours after a snowstorm. [It] may take a little bit longer than that this time around just because of the number of people that we have."

Overland Park would need another 40 workers to be fully staffed at 170. But they have enough to clear the streets for this weekend's storm.

People can track their progress online.