Snow day creates snow stories in Columbia

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | 6:13 p.m. CST; updated 4:56 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 2, 2011

COLUMBIA — All over Columbia, mid-Missouri and well beyond, people were talking about the snowstorm Tuesday. Some were tucked away at home, happy to be there. Others worked.

Grailian Nash, in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood, planned to be in St. Louis on Tuesday. His son, also named Grailian, and his son's fiancee had twins there on Sunday night. 

A material expert at Gates Rubber Co., Nash wanted to go to St. Louis on Monday, but because of work policy could not request off until Tuesday. After receiving word that Interstate 70 was closed, Nash now has to wait even longer to see the newborn boys.

"I'm going to be stranded up in here looks like for a couple of days," he said. 

'It's scary-looking'

In the Douglass neighborhood, John McFarland said that he has been inside all day and that, except for one van, he hasn't seen anyone walk or drive by his house on Jewell Avenue near Sexton Road.

McFarland, who is retired, said the sidewalks in his neighborhood are covered in snow and ice.

"Pedestrians are out of luck because it's just impossible to walk," he said. "If you're not on the traffic lanes, you're on the ice, and you might slip and fall. I wouldn't consider going anywhere on foot."

McFarland said many residents and businesses don't shovel their sidewalks for days. The last snowstorm a couple of weeks ago meant sidewalks on Providence Road and Garth Avenue were blocked by piles of snow, he said.

"If you have to go out on the traffic lanes, you're taking a risk," McFarland said of pedestrians. "There should be an ordinance that you should have to shovel your walks within two days."

He said the snow had drifted and piled up on his deck, blocking his back door. He had to shovel through a foot of snow to get his back door open, and even then, he couldn't make it through the snow to get to the garbage can 15 feet away. He threw the sack of garbage out the back door instead.

"You can barely see the steps going down to ground level from the deck," McFarland said. "It's scary-looking."

He said he planned to stay inside the next few days, getting by on his food supply of half a gallon of milk, cereal, oatmeal, chicken, vegetables, a dozen eggs, and some canned and frozen goods. He has a parka and snow boots if he needs to leave the house, but he's trying to avoid that.

'Don't worry about this old gal'

McFarland's neighbor, Denise Christianson, ventured outside her home to put her bill payment in the mailbox and throw out crumbs for the birds.

Christianson said she keeps going outside to wipe the snow off her mailbox, so the mail carrier can see that the mailbox's red flag is raised. She has swept the snow off her porch three times, but it keeps blowing back.

"It's pointless to shovel walks because it gets covered again," Christianson said.

Christianson said she had to miss work Tuesday at the Salvation Army thrift store because it was closed. Although she is on Social Security, Christianson works to pay her bills, and she won't be able to earn money until the snowstorm wanes.

"Every dollar counts when you're working," Christianson said. "You're living paycheck to paycheck. But everything's all right; don't worry about this old gal."

She said she was worried the birds wouldn't find food in this weather, so she threw some crumbled stale crackers and breadcrumbs outside.

"The birdies don't care about the taste.They just want something for their tummies," Christianson said. "Poor little critters are so cold in that wind."

Christianson saw three children playing "Ring Around the Rosie" Tuesday morning in the middle of the snowy street since there were no cars outside. Laughing, Christianson said she wished they used their energy to clean up the snow.

"Too bad I couldn't put a shovel in their hands and have them shovel that driveway," Christianson said. "I suppose that isn't as fun as 'Ring Around the Rosie.'"

In the meantime, Christianson is staying indoors, except for occasional porch sweeps and mailbox wipes.

"It'll be several days before life gets back," Christianson said. "I do have the telephone and my kitty cat to keep me company."

'Staying home, like everybody else'

In the Rothwell Heights neighborhood, "We've had no plows at all, and we've had neighbors trying to help each other," said Dan Adams, who has lived on Faurot Drive for 40 years. "It's the same story here as it is everywhere else."

Like many, Adams stocked up at the grocery store before the storm hit. "We've put out seed for the birds also that gets covered up so we have to put one layer on top of the other," he said.

Asked whether he had planned to venture out Tuesday, Adams said, "Not at all — except to make a path for my little dog to be able to get outside."

"We're staying home, like everybody else," he said. He planned to spend the afternoon making phone calls to friends and family.

'An impromptu holiday'

Close to noon, Paula Elias couldn't see anyone out in the snow from her home in the Old Southwest. Tire tracks, maybe, but no people. Standing out on her front porch, she couldn't see through the whiteness more than a block and a half away.

She guessed there was about 5 inches of snow — so much that when a squirrel jumped off a telephone pole, it was buried momentarily before popping back up.

Elias said her children were excited to have a day off from school. One was at a neighbor's, playing video games; another was sleeping in.

Friends had recommended shoveling once an hour, but it seemed fruitless to her. She's just going to let it build up before she tries to clear it.

Elias worries about the homeless and elderly in this weather and people who are alone at home, but she was enjoying the day. There's not too much interruption from her normal routine. The best thing about a snow day is that it reminds her of being a kid.

"Even if you are still working, it feels like the world just stopped," she said. "It feels like an impromptu holiday."

'Should have gone to Florida'

Birds and squirrels were lucky they could rely on people like Tom and Susan Gray in the Old Southwest.

The two fed the birds three or four times over the course of Tuesday morning. They cleared off ledges on their back deck, where there was about a foot of snow mid-afternoon, to sprinkle seed. All kinds of birds kept coming, including woodpeckers, cardinals and doves, and sometimes squirrels, too, Tom Gray said.

"You feel sorry for them," Gray said. "It's bad out there."

Gray said he had seen neighbors outside walking dogs over the course of the day. His dog, Lucky, a terrier mix, didn't want to stay out in the cold too long when he walked her. She is about 18 inches tall, and the snow came well above her belly.

Gray didn't expect the side streets to be plowed for a day or two because there's a focus on keeping the main roads clear, but he was fine with that. He went to the store on Monday and said he'd "hunkered down" at home.

Gray said that he enjoys all the seasons and is OK with the snow as long as he has a chance to prepare for it.

Still, he joked, "I should have gone to Florida this year."

'Best way to spend a snow day'

In East Campus, while swaying in place with 3-month-old Jaylyn Nevaeh Dennis cradled in her arms, MU senior Amy Tesch watched the first snow flurries of the winter storm at the True Scholars House, College and University avenues.

"It was exciting," Tesch said. "I am originally from the Chicagoland area, so I've experienced several blizzards before."

A snow day did not mean sleeping in for Tesch, who was up at 6:35 a.m. because she had volunteered to baby-sit the daughter of her friend, Ashley Daniel, while Daniel went to work at the MU Student Recreation Complex.

Daniel lives at Timber Ridge Apartments, which she felt was too far away from campus to safely commute back and forth. When she asked whether it would be all right for her and Dennis to stay with Tesch at the True Scholars House through the storm, Tesch was more than happy to help her out.

"I love Jaylyn," Tesch said. "She's the cutest little thing ever, and she's so interested in what's going on."

Tesch decided to spend her snow day with Jaylyn watching favorite movies such as "Meet the Robinsons" and "Beauty and the Beast."

"This is the best way to spend a snow day," she said. "I get to sit around, watch Disney movies and spend time with some of my favorite people on the planet. It's perfect."

Sarah Walker, an education major at MU, yearned for a movie or two. "It's nice to have this day off from school," said Walker, who lives near Rock Bridge High School, "but I really wish I could get to the video store."

"We're literally snowed in," Walker said as she glanced out her back door. "It's hard to believe there's that much snow, but I love it."

'All the rugged ice'

Laurie Pancoast lives on a county road southwest of Columbia, which as of early afternoon hadn't been plowed.

"I have gotten out on my tractor and plowed my driveway, and it doesn't even look like I've been out there — that was two hours ago," Pancoast said.

Two of her four children attend MU; one planned to hit the rec center a couple of times, and another planned to get some studying done. Pancoast was contemplating whether to plow the driveway again.

"It's blinding out there; that's what's really getting to me," she said. "All the rugged ice from the previous snow is underneath, and it's dangerous."

'Clean your car often'

Lonnie Anderson, who lives on Hirth Avenue in the Douglass neighborhood, said he has been shoveling his driveway every hour since 9 a.m. Each time, he spends about 15 to 20 minutes shoveling 2 to 3 inches. He said he lived in Chicago for 11 years, so he's used to the hard work.

"Shovel often," Anderson said. "Clean your car often. It'll make it 10 times easier."

Anderson said he has seen a couple of neighbors shoveling, but for the most part, everyone is inside.

"Everybody's in the house today. It's been very quiet in Columbia today," he said. "You can hear a quarter get dropped in the street — well, not in the snow."

'So much snow'

Christi Hopper, a swimming teacher at Hickman High School and district coordinator for physical education and health, did a fair amount of work at her Woodridge neighborhood home on her snow day.

She is revising the seventh- and eighth-grade physical education curriculum for next year. Health education is being fused into the physical education classes. The year after next, it will become a separate class.

Hopper thinks the public schools will stay closed for a few days. "We've been out so much with snow," she said, adding it's thrown her lesson plans a little off balance. 

'A swirling, steamy frost'

Meanwhile, Stephanie Berg, a master's student in music composition and clarinet performance at MU, tried her hand at a bit of verse on her Facebook page, to mark the storm:

I find myself amid a world of white,
A swirling, steamy frost that burns the skin
And flecks the cheeks with red.

A silent whirlwind, a pillow-soft chaos,
... A most disruptive cotton-top mattress.

Good thing I bought milk yesterday.

Did she venture out on Tuesday? "Just long enough to jump around in a 2-foot snowdrift," said Berg, who lives downtown. "Then I went back in."

Missourian reporters Catherine Newhouse, Margaux Henquinet, Anne Koncki, Kacie Flynn, Katie Landis, Alahandra Jones, Sara Johnson and Natalie Devlin contributed to this article.

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