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Shawnee street crews prep for looming storm

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
Snow-covered tree limbs.

The National Weather Service, at weather.gov, has issued a hazardous weather outlook for much of the state, including Pottawatomie County, as well as a winter storm watch expected late Saturday night to Monday afternoon.

Between five and 10 inches of snow is possible and dangerous wind chills are expected.

“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the report reads. “The cold wind chills as low as 25 below zero could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.”

So, as Shawnee residents are stocking up on provisions and finding a cushy place to sit the storms out, city crews are taking action to keep the roads in good shape for necessary travel.

Public Works Director Brad Schmidt said the Shawnee Street Department is operating under its 24-hour winter weather response plan and will continue to do so until the weather subsides.

“Crews are currently treating slick spots, elevated surfaces and intersections as needed and will continue to monitor our priority routes,” he said. “The current plan prioritizes supporting emergency services, as well as main arterial routes.”

He said the department uses a treated salt mixture and currently has an adequate supply available.

“Although staff has been treating for ice, and are continuing to do so, they are also preparing for snow removal,” he said. “The Street Department, augmented with additional Public Works staff when possible, operates a total of seven pieces of equipment with spreader and plow attachments.”

He said as staff continues to monitor and treat priority, secondary, and tertiary routes, residents are encouraged to stay home as much as possible and to exercise extreme caution if travel is necessary.

“Please remember to allow additional time for braking, reduce speed, and maintain a minimum of 200 feet between your vehicle and snow removal equipment,” Schmidt said.

Routes

The following is not an exhaustive listing of the streets that are attended to in order of biggest priority:

The first areas to receive attention are bridges and hills; emergency responders, such as police and fire; schools and City Hall, etc.

Primary streets: Kickapoo, Harrison, Federal, Bryan, Highland, MacArthur, and many more.

Secondary streets: Wallace, Kennedy, Main, Beard, Broadway, Union, etc.

Segments that help residential areas get to primary streets: Dunbar, 45th, Hardesty, Leo, Remington, Pesotum, Center, and many others.

Power outages

Even if residents are staying off the roads, there are potential issues at home that need attention while weathering this winter storm.

Knowing how to handle food properly can be a daunting task if there is a power outage.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), at usda.gov, the following food safety recommendations are recommended for those who may be impacted by severe winter storms moving through the area.

Winter storms present the possibility of power outages that can compromise the safety of stored food.

Steps to follow in advance of losing power:

• Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.

• Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.

• Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer. Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.

• Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.

• Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.

• Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

• Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).

• Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination from thawing juices.

• Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Food safety during snow and ice storms:

During a snowstorm, do not place perishable food out in the snow. Outside temperatures can vary and food can be exposed to unsanitary conditions and animals. Instead, make ice by filling buckets or cans with water and leave them outside to freeze. Use this ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

• Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

• Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.

• Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.

• Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.

• When in doubt, throw it out.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.