Local emergency management teams collaborating to stay ahead of icy weather

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Emergency management teams across the metro are working to make sure they stay ahead of the ice.

Matt May, director of Wyandotte County Emergency Management, and his team spent Wednesday collecting data on the storm.

“I think our biggest challenge is going to be transportation,” May said. “A few degrees will make a difference between solid freezing rain, ice, sleet or snow.”

May’s department operates on four levels. As of Wednesday night, they were at a level two, or what they refer to as the “Watch Level.”

“Our most important role right now is the collection and dissemination of information,” May said.

They’re working with emergency management teams in neighboring counties, collecting the latest weather conditions and response information to ensure their departments are ready to handle whatever may happen.

“We’ll simply talk about what’s our status, how we’re doing with response, what’s the weather now and then because it can change dramatically,” May explained. “A lot of these teams – public works guys for example – are out there in the field in this environment, and we want them to be safe. We want them to have the best information they can get.”

Collaborating with other counties also helps them understand how each entity plans to react to situations that may arise.

“Our concern always is life safety,” May said. “Life safety of our citizens and life safety of our first responders."

May said he doesn’t anticipate major problems based on the current forecast.

“The National Weather Service offered to us that if it comes down in a hard rain, it probably won’t be as bad,” May said.

He suspects the county will stay at a level two preparedness at least until morning.

“As long as it doesn’t get worse and they don’t extend the warning, I think we’ll be fine by noon-ish,” May said.

A lack of resources or inability for departments to operate would prompt the county to move operations to a level three.

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