Citizens of Kansas City, Mo., were told that an arctic front would interrupt their mild winter, but didn't expect to find two inches of ice covering the city on the morning of Jan. 31, 2002. Making things worse, the storm topped the ice with two inches of snow. The fairy-tale appeal wore off quickly as officials realized that trees were snapping under the icy weight, streets were blocked and most residents were without power.

According to Michael Shaw, assistant director of the city's Public Works Department, approximately 500,000 trees were destroyed or damaged, which created 1.6 million metric tons of debris. Falling tree branches knocked down power lines and blocked 20,000 streets, leaving 75 percent of residents without power for weeks.

After 81 days and $26.8 million, the city was back to normal, but not before the importance of having emergency management contract clauses, an emergency management office and detailed documentation were reinforced.


Phasing Out

City officials divided the response effort into three phases. "First we tried to unblock as many streets as possible so we could get police, fire and any kind of medics in, and also utility companies so we could get power restored to critical areas," Shaw said.

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Elaine Rundle  |  Staff Writer