Simplified: Most years, Sioux Falls has between 25 and 30 seasonal snow plow drivers, Street Manager Dustin Hansen said. This year, the city has seven. But, despite the shortages, Hansen said they're making it work to get streets cleared.

Why it matters

  • Sioux Falls saw about 10 inches of snow last week, leading to school cancellations, travel advisories and a snow alert calling for all city streets to be plowed.
  • In order to clear snow, the street department called in help from a number of other city departments including the landfill, water reclamation, and parks and recreation.
  • When it comes to staffing, the city took a bit of a double hit this year. It's not only short on seasonal workers, Hansen said, but several contractors who usually work with the city didn't renew contracts this year.
"A lot of them did not come back this year because they were concerned they weren't going to be able to get the operators (to fulfill the contract)," Hansen said.

What was it like for plow drivers?

Ben Schaaf, lead equipment operator with the city street department, worked his usual snow-removal shifts: midnight to noon.

"It kind of seems like we're fighting uphill," Schaaf said. "We just utilized everybody we could from other departments ... we sent everybody we had in full force out on the streets."

In a "full-blown" snow event like Friday's, Schaaf said drivers work 12 hours on, 12 hours off until the city is plowed.

The biggest impact of the driver shortage, he said, is that it'll take longer to get the city plowed.

"We're coming," he said. "So just be patient."