As the wintry weather and icy winds subside, the city of Columbia is left to deal with the storm's aftermath, including icy road conditions, water main breaks and an increase in energy demand. 

Snow storms began Feb. 6 with freezing temperatures and risky road conditions throughout the city. Over Valentine's Day weekend, the icy conditions intensified, and Columbia was left immersed in at least 3 to 4 inches of snow. The next couple of days brought the city more freezing storms, putting the City of Columbia’s Snow Management team to work. 

From Feb. 7 to Friday, Columbia suffered a total of 14 water main breaks:

  • Four of those breaks took place Feb. 12 at 24 S. Ninth St., 705 Marion Drive, 1333 Business Loop and 1025 Ashland Road.
  • Two breaks occurred Feb. 13 at 104 Sondra Ave and 923 S. Providence Road.
  • Two more pipes burst Sunday at 2023 Parkridge Drive and 2900 Forum Blvd.
  • The four most recent ruptures occurred Thursday at 3204 Woodbine Drive, 1102 W. Broadway, Bernadette Place and 800 Cypress Lane. 

“From 7:30 a.m. Saturday to 3:18 p.m. Wednesday, we had 201 calls,” said Matt Nestor, community relations specialist for the City of Columbia’s Utilities department.

“We have to work on them one at a time. When there’s a large volume of calls, we can’t get to everybody immediately," Nestor said. "It was a pretty hectic few days for the crews.”

The inclement weather also posed problems for heating and cooling companies in Boone County according to Rob Sachse, owner of Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning of Columbia, who said that heating outages are due to the bitter weather overworking furnaces to exhaustion. 

“When it gets cold like this, instead of running maybe four to five calls a day, we're running six to eight calls, and our technicians are getting calls in the middle of the night and attempting to get those people’s heating back,” he said. “It’s a bit stressful for everyone. When it gets this cold, it’s life threatening. No one wants to go without heat, so our service technicians have been working nonstop these last couple weeks.” 

Fortunately, warmer days are coming soon. Temperatures will be above 30 degrees Fahrenheit for the next week, entering the 40s and even getting up to 58 degrees Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service's website.

MU also saw some technical issues due to the weather. A pipe going into Memorial Student Union on the eastern side burst, causing minimal damage to the carpet and a couple ceiling tiles. 

“We don't know the actual cost until we have the opportunity to go in there and look a little further,” said Christian Basi, of the MU News Bureau. He said the pipe fed into a sprinkler line and was repaired quickly. 

Lucas Nava contributed to this report. 

  • Public Life reporter, spring 2021 Studying arts & culture journalism Reach me at annaortega@umsystem.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

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