Massive winter storm sweeps in, Southern shuts down

It’s been a weeklong recovery process for the still-frozen campus of Missouri Southern.

With approximately 3 inches of ice and snow on the ground, the crew at the physical plant has been working since Jan. 15 to clear the campus for the students’ return. In addition to what are being called some of the worst weather conditions in five years, the physical plant staff is also facing the challenge of new temporary leadership. Bob Harrington, director of the physical plant, suffered a broken leg and has transferred leadership to Grounds Supervisor Bob Kemp.

University staff have been working with private contractors and so far have used 25 tons of cinder, five tons of ice melt, two Bobcats, three snowplows and one backhoe to begin clearing the sidewalks and parking lots.

“It’s just overwhelming, we need the good Lord’s help to get the sun out,” Harrington said.

Thirty to 40 University employees have been working out of the safety department the past week to clear the campus. However, the less than favorable nightly conditions have drastically slowed work.

“I need some help from Mother Nature,” Kemp said. “I need blue skies and above 32 degrees and we’ll do the rest.”

Kemp said there have been hundreds of man-hours put into clearing the campus.

In addition to the current University supplies Kemp made an emergency trip to purchase two additional tons of ice melt.

“I didn’t realize how low supplies were,” he said.

In spite of the heavy ice cover, damage to the campus has been minimal with only a few tree limbs down.

“We were very fortunate to not have much tree damage,” said University President Julio León.

Kemp lives in Carthage where his home has been with out power for days and many other University employees are experiencing similar situations.

“People have been traveling treacherous roads to get here,” he said, “We’ll be here all day. That’s what we do.”