By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
ST JOSEPH, MO (KCTV) -
Flights at Kansas City International Airport delayed. Miles and miles of a major interstate in northwest Missouri closed. Slick spots leading to wrecks and long commutes.
The Kansas City area didn't see an overwhelming amount of snow Thursday, but the snow and ice created travel headaches.
Interstate 29 was closed from St. Joseph to the Iowa border because the highway was ice covered and slick. Numerous semis got stuck on a hill, creating backups.
Kim Gilliland was stuck on the highway for hours, waiting for it to reopen.
"The wind was blowing like crazy and started icing over and people started having accidents," she said.
She resorted to taking a nap, trying to get some food and ultimately just trying to stay warm and wait it out.
She and her puppy Lelo got stuck in Missouri while traveling from Virginia to Nebraska for the holidays.
"The last two Christmases I have been deployed and now that I'm out of the military I can finally make it home for Christmas," she said. "I am so excited I finally get to spend Christmas with them."
A chapter of the Red Cross set up temporary shelters to assist stranded motorists. One was at a Ramada Inn where drivers and passengers could be warm and comfortable.
Area cities like Kansas City and Overland Park began rolling out their snow plows just after midnight when the area was seeing just rain.
Government leaders said they were pleased with the work that crews did. They said road conditions were challenging, but nothing unusual for the area's first winter storm. The sunlight in the afternoon helped with melting and bought crews time to focus on side streets.
Motorists are advised to be careful tonight and early Friday due to refreezing.
Olathe resident Mickey Wenninger needed nearly three hours to drive from Olathe to downtown Kansas City. Once she finally reached her destination, she locked her keys in her car. Despite her travel woes, she complimented workers for their efforts.
"I think they've done a phenomenal job," she said. "I did have to get off on some side streets, but I think the crews have done a great job without them, I wouldn't have made it down here."
Sean Demory, a spokesman for Kansas City's Public Works Department, said 165 trucks traversed the hundreds of miles of roads in the city.
"We had challenges throughout the city," he said. "We did have issues on 63rd Street (due to snow and ice), but we have gotten those largely under control."
KCI was packed with travelers with cell phones to their ears and computers or smartphones at their finger tips as they tried to rebook flights that were delayed or canceled. Phone calls to airlines found long hold times.
Long-awaited trips for cruises, family Christmases or even mission trips were left up in the air or scrambled because of delays or cancellations.
A mess, one traveler said in succinctly describing the situation. But many said their plight could be worse and they kept a stiff upper lip.
Overland Park snow boss Brian Hutchinson said road crews appreciated residents' patience and understanding.
For some, this was new hires' first snowstorm.
"There's always a learning curve the first time out," Hutchinson said. "It's just like having a new vehicle. You have to learn how to run it. Sometimes things go wrong until you get the bugs out. So yes, the first time is the most difficult one."
KCTV5's Carolyn Long contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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