Assessing response, Officials pleased with how storm work went

By Chris Kieffer / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Lee County road manager Tim Allred admits he experienced one rather tense moment last week when arctic weather embraced Northeast Mississippi.
After crews had worked long hours Monday to clear Lee County’s roads of snow, Allred anxiously watched his thermometer that night.
As many as 10 inches of white powder had fallen in parts of the county, and some of that had turned to watery slush on county roads.
“Late Monday evening, I was on pins and needles because we had a lot of slush,” Allred said. “If the temperature would have dropped one or two degrees, it would have been a disaster the next morning with ice on the ground.”
But Allred’s thermometer never dipped below 33 degrees that night, and the rest of the week couldn’t have gone any smoother, he said.
One week after Tupelo’s largest snowfall in more than 40 years, city and county officials said they were satisfied with their response to the unusual weather.
‘As smoothly as it could go’
Because things went so well, they said, there were no significant lessons to be learned from clearing the six or more inches of snow that fell Jan. 9-10.
“It went as smoothly as it could go,” said Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Darrell Smith. “We got on it early, and fortunately there was no ice and that made it much easier for our snow plows to get the snow off the streets.”
Tupelo crews began working a 12-hour shift around 6 p.m. Sunday. A second group worked a 12-hour shift beginning at 6 a.m. Monday. Using the city’s four plows, the workers got the main roads cleared and then worked toward the others.
Virtually everything was cleared by Tuesday afternoon, Smith said.
Even though Tupelo hadn’t had this much snow since March 1968, Smith said crews knew their routines from previous hard rains. Where snows were particularly high, they used a front-end loader to pile it on the side of the street.
Smith credited the “super job” done by the public works employees, and Mayor Jack Reed Jr. agreed. Reed also acknowledged Tupelo Water amp& Light, noting that the city had no power outages.
“I was just absolutely delighted, and from the comments I’ve gotten, the citizens of Tupelo were absolutely delighted by the great job the public works employees of the city of Tupelo did,” Reed said.
Lee County crews began snow removal at 3 a.m. Monday and they continued until about 7 or 8 that night. They also began with the main roads and worked their way outward, continuing their efforts Tuesday and Wednesday.
Allred said that all of the roads were cleared by late Wednesday.
“We were prepared, and we got out and worked early,” said Lee County Board of Supervisors President Darrell Rankin. “Everything went as expected. We didn’t have any unexpected stumbling blocks.”
Allred estimated it cost the county about $3,000 to clear the snow, including man hours and material. Smith said it was too early to know the cost to the city.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com