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Kansas City Residents Are Frustrated That Neighborhood Streets Are Still Icy

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Jennifer Hurst
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Streets surrounding Academy Lafayette in Kansas City are still icy Wednesday.

Kansas City residents are still dealing with the aftermath of a winter storm that dumped inches of snow across the city and has resulted in icy road conditions, closed schools and delayed travel.

On Wednesday, three days after the storm hit Kansas City, many residential roads were still iced over and had not been properly plowed. A tweet from the Kansas City City Manager announced Wednesday morning that city crews have completed snow removal operations and that work will continue throughout the week. A follow-up tweet from Kansas City clarified that 70 trucks are currently out in neighborhoods breaking up snowpack, with a focus on neighborhood streets, corners, hills and curves.

Still, many residents voiced their frustrations with the city’s handling of the storm.

Missouri resident Jennifer Hurst said she was frustrated to see the city manager’s tweet. She said it didn’t seem like the city was prepared at all for the winter storm.

“It is kind of up to the city to have the city work so its citizens can go to work and school,” she said. “It’s like they just don’t get it at all.”

Kansas City spokesperson Chris Hernandez said more than 200 trucks were out on the streets Sunday night to tend to the roads. He added that the city received more than 500 calls yesterday from residents.

“We tackled this storm the same way we tackle every big storm that comes our way,” he said.

Hernandez also said that because Kansas City’s streets are not as wide as suburban streets in other cities, it can be more difficult for trucks to pass through and remove the snowpack.

The icy road conditions prompted Kansas City public schools to close since Monday. The University of Missouri-Kansas City also canceled classes Monday and had a delayed start Tuesday.

Linda Quinley from Kansas City Public Schools said the school district decided to cancel classes again Wednesday because the streets still would not have been cleared enough to ensure kids could safely get to school. With students in the district now going nearly a week without school, in part because of the Thanksgiving holiday, Quinley said the closures greatly impact their learning.

“It is disappointing and frustrating because we want our kids in school every day we can possibly have them there,” Quinley said. “But we won’t put them on buses on streets we don’t think are safe.”

As a working mother of two children, Hurst said the school closures have been challenging to deal with.

“I can’t work,” she said. “I have to find childcare. My husband and I have to juggle work and watching the kids. So it’s definitely affected not only our day-to-day living but our livelihood as well.”

Despite being closed, five schools in the district opened from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday to provide free lunch to students and families. Quinley said it was important to offer free lunch to students who may not have been able to have lunch at home.

“We have a high number of kids that rely on us for those two meals,” she said.

Lea Ann Smiroldo, an area supervisor with child nutrition, helped give out hot and sacked lunches to 21 people at Gladstone Elementary School.

“We just felt that, with the school being out for three days, that parents might be struggling to feed kids for three days when you’re not expecting to do that,” she said.

Hurst said the way the city has handled this snow storm makes her worried about how Kansas City will react to future storms as winter continues.

“If we are already running through all of our snow days and having to figure out childcare here in November, I’d hate to see what January and February will be like,” she said.

Celisa Calacal is an intern with KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at @celisa_mia.

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