Kansas City coordinates to handle ice storm - KCTV5 News

Kansas City coordinates to handle ice storm

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Various facets of society in Kansas City were working together to prepare for an ice storm forecasted to impact the area.

When it comes to icing, lots of above ground power lines plus trees are a potentially dangerous combination. Arborists receive a lot of calls from areas with such a combination when ice storms hit.

Kansas City Power & Light says they perform regular maintenance throughout their territory and trim branches as needed. “When it comes to our tree crews,” said Rebecca Galati with KCP&L, “we trim year ‘round. It's day in, day out. They're out there on their normal shift and, once the storm hits, we'll pull off there and go into storm mode.”

They say to call in power outages and crews will come to fix the problem as soon as possible. 

If you see limbs on power lines, don’t try to remove them yourself.

Some, however, people choose to get generators in preparation for power outages.

On Friday at Nuts and Bolts hardware store, there was only one generator left in stock.

“This is a 7,000 watt generator,” said Herb Dunne who works at the store. “This will serve your whole house. It should; it’s $1,000 dollars.”

You could get away with something a bit less expensive, however. A 4,000-5,000 watt generator can run a couple appliances. A 4,000-7,000 watt range is ideal. A refrigerator is going to draw 2,500 watts just to turn it on.

When you turn it on, take it outside. “A running engine creates carbon monoxide,” said Dunne. “Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that you can’t smell and it’s very toxic. So be careful.”

Because of that gas, you should make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector that’s working and has a battery backup.

Not everyone will be home to use their generator, though. Many people will still be needing to commute somewhere.

KC Scout has a lot of technology on hand to keep on top of the road conditions, including 200 highway cameras, sensors on the roads and a center that’s staffed 24/7. You can access a color-coded map of road conditions online or from MoDOT's app. Look for the "Traveler Information Map."

Their main role is incident management; watching for collisions and congestion, helping to alert drivers and getting things cleared quickly. 

"Delays slow down our salt trucks, from the MoDOT and KDOT perspective," said Mark Sommerhauser with KC Scout. "They slow down the emergency response people and it really does have kind of a domino effect."

KC Scout works in tandem with MoDOT and KDOT, as well as 50 local law enforcement and emergency response agencies.

Johnson County dispatchers take calls from several cities and plan on taking more calls than usual this weekend. Therefore, they have spent the last week preparing for a higher call volume due to the storm.

“We are prepared to bring eight to 10 people in, or more, if we need to,” said Ellen Wernicke, director of Emergency Management and Communications. “That is kind of the staffing levels we are looking at right now just to deal with the fire and EMS volume alone.”

She said they receive a lot of calls about falls and downed power lines when icing happens.

On the other side of the equation, crews want to make sure they can get to you -- even if that means taking an unconventional vehicle like an SUV.

“In consultation with all the fire and EMS chiefs in the Johnson County area, we can implement some parts of the plan that allows us to change our typical daily operations,” said Ryan Jacobsen, medical director with the Johnson County EMS System. "That allows for crews to cycle their ambulances a little bit quicker out of hospitals to make them available.”

Jacobsen says Johnson County has put more ambulances in service and more crews are geared up and ready to go if needed.

The snow, ice and wind means that officers need to be ready for just about anything, too.

Kansas City, Missouri patrol officers have been bundled up for weeks while out working in the winter weather.

“Our officers that are on patrol definitely are dressing in layers,” said Kari Thompson with the Kansas City police. “Definitely we’re making sure they are hydrated. So, we are making sure they are prepared for the cold weather.”

First responders aren’t the only ones expecting their phones to be ringing off the hook this weekend, though. Towing companies are also expecting plenty of calls to come in as people hit the streets and accidents happen.

Those who own the towing companies say they run into a common problem.

"People will slide off the road or get stuck and call two or three tow companies,” explained Joe Meyer with Overland Tow Service. “We're all trying to get to places as quick as we can, but they don't have the courtesy to cancel the other two companies if one of them shows up."

Meyer said to be patient with tow truck drivers because they’re also driving in dangerous conditions in order to get to you.

Those terrified at the thought of having their own car towed in the event of an accident may look for a different way to get from point A to point B.

There's good news for that group of people. Streetcars will be out and about more than usual this weekend because a few cars will be running 24 hours a day.

The change isn’t for service, but to protect the overhead wires that keep them running. Using the streetcars helps to avoid ice buildup on the wires and tracks.

The streetcars will be running a big slower than usual, but there is a new way to get text alerts for any disruptions of service. You can text kcstreetcar to 797979 and you’ll get a text alert on their status. 

On Saturday, warming buses will be available at 10th and Main starting at 6 a.m. and at the Independence Metro Center beginning at 9 a.m. 

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority said they’ve already started treating their routes and problem areas ahead of the storm and will continue to do so through the weekend. Therefore, they don’t expect they will need to make too many changes to routes.

If things get dangerous, however, they will suspend service. If only certain areas of the city are hit hard, they’ll readjust as necessary. 

"With the ice coming, sometimes there's very little you can do,” said Cindy Baker with the KCATA. “It's not like a little bit of snow. So, we will make the decision a few hours before. If service has to be suspended, we will do that a couple of hours in advance." 

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