MU Campus Facilities staff prepared for a long night as a winter storm warning went into effect Monday night.
“We will have folks stay overnight tonight and be ready to deal with snow issues,” said Pete Millier, director of landscape services at MU Campus Facilities. “The snow will probably start around 1 to 3 (a.m.) tomorrow and will be fast and furious for the first few hours. We’re actually getting everybody lined up now. It does no good for anybody to wait until the snow is on the ground. We try to have our staff here so it is safe for them to get to campus and be able to start on snow removal when they need to.”
Millier and his team were given increased funding to respond to snowstorms after 2011’s “Snowpocalypse.”
“For a typical Missouri winter, we had an adequate budget prior to (the 2011 storm), but when you get 18 inches it wipes out the budget and then some,” Millier said.
The snow removal does not always have to come entirely out of MU’s pocket.
“You spend all this money and then if it is declared a disaster by the governor then FEMA can step in and reimburse you,” said Millier, “But it takes the federal government a year or two to process your claim, so you have a deficit for awhile.”
Tuesday’s storm prompted MU administrative officials to cancel school, citing “the potential for hazardous weather conditions and the advisories from city and state officials as considerations for the closure” in a news release. Monday projections for Columbia predicted 6 inches to 11 inches of snow.
“While the forecast may say you are going to get six inches you may get 8, 9 or 10. Forecasting is not an exact science,” said Millier. “We gear up before the snow starts falling, we have a management plan that we put into effect and we start dealing with it before the first flake hits.”
Although it seems as though funding would keep increasing after two heavy snowfalls within the same number of years, there will most likely not be an additional increase in funding, Millier said.
“I mean it would be great if we had more money allocated for snow removal, but you have to fund based on an average and you try to do a 10-year average,” he said. “While it may appear in recent memory that we’ve had these big snows, when you average them out its pretty normal. I’ve been here eight years and we’ve only had three major events so I’d say that’s pretty good.”