By Mark Taylor
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner and Edgerton utility workers, police and tow truck drivers were kept busy during two
blizzards that dumped about 20 inches of snow on the area within a period of five days.
The storms hit on Feb. 21 and Feb 26.  About 12 inches of snow blanketed the area during the first storm and about seven inches during the second.
According to most accounts – other than power outages in Gardner and Edgerton on Feb. 26 – the second storm was far less problematic than the first.
No injury accidents were reported in the area.
Ilena Spalding, public information officer for the Gardner Police Department, said the most recent storm “was much calmer than the one before. Less people were out on the streets.”
Spalding said Gardner police responded to 94 calls within a 24-hour period during the first storm.
Of those, three were non-injury accidents, and 73 were motorist assists.
Motorist assist calls include vehicles that are stuck at intersections or that have slid off the roadway.
During the second storm, police responded to 29 calls during a 24-hour period.
Those included 10 motorist assists and one accident that occurred on private property.
Spalding said overtime was “minimal” during the storm.
Dep. Rick Howell, of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, said public agencies were able to provide more warning to the public ahead of the second storm.
He said the public deserves credit for “heeding the message” and staying home during the second storm.
“The first storm hit so hard, and most people were already at work when it hit,” he said.
Howell said the sheriff’s office utilized “all our resources” regarding personnel during the storm.
Deputies from all the department’s divisions were called upon for patrol.
“We wanted to stay ahead of the curve, if you will,” he said.
Brandon McCollum, distribution supervisor for Gardner Energy, said the majority of Gardner was affected by a power outage that lasted for about eight hours during the second storm.
He said crews were dispatched at 3 a.m. after receiving reports of “flickering lights.”
The first outage was reported at 6:22 a.m., and power was fully restored by 11 a.m.
McCollum said the flickering and outage resulted from Kansas City Power and Light switching feeds into the Gardner area.
An estimated 94,000 customers lost power in the KCPL service area.
McCollum added that Gardner Energy had some ice on its lines but had no issues with fallen trees due to its “aggressive” tree trimming program.
Beth Linn, city administrator for the city of Edgerton, said crews put in about 95 hours clearing snow during the first storm and about 104 during the second.
Six tons of salt/sand was used during the first storm and 1.5 tons during the second.
Edgerton residents experienced a power outage from mid-morning to mid-afternoon on Feb. 26, due to density of the snowfall, Linn said.
Edgerton customers are served by KCPL.
“Most residents experienced approximately six hours without power,” Linn said.
Mica Marriott, of Marriott’s Garage, said the company’s tow trucks were kept busy during the first storm.
“I had people stranded in their cars for three to four hours,” Marriott said. “There was a long list of people to get to.”