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Capital City a ghost town

Capital City a ghost town

February 1st, 2011 in News

Snow and swirling winds substituted for tumbleweeds along downtown High Street on Tuesday morning, where people and vehicles were scarce and only two businesses could be found open.

Throughout much of the city, it was the same. Even Dairy Queen, where they sell Blizzards, was closed during the blizzard.

Others weren't going to let a predicted couple of feet of snow keep them from work. The bakery Chez Monet in downtown Jefferson City was open, making hot oatmeal for chilled customers.

Owner Joan Fairfax said she drove to work OK. She wasn't sure about the ride home as weather worsened, but said she could walk if necessary.

"I have never missed a day of work because of weather in 20 years," said Fairfax, 54, said.

John Myers, a cook at Mortimer Kegley's, said: "We've got a couple catering events at the Capitol that weren't canceled, so we'll be open for lunch. We'll decide what happens after that."

With a blizzard forecast, many Jefferson City businesses on Tuesday submitted to Mother Nature and never tried to open.

Church bells at St. Peter Catholic Church could be clearly heard ringing outside Toalson's Drug Store at 11 a.m., without the normal noise of pedestrians and vehicles to drown them out.

Several city banks opened on Tuesday, but were closed by mid-morning.

Dan Westhues, a Central Bank vice president, posted on his Facebook account that the bank would close at 10 a.m. for the first time in more than 40 years. "It's a Legendary Day!" he wrote.

The loss of income extended from business owners to employees who aren't salaried and get paid hourly.

At Mortimer Kegley's, Meyers and a friend, Raymond Rowland, chatted outside the business while having a smoke.

Rowland, a worker at Conoco Convenient Food Mart, 426 Brooks St., said the convenience store was closing at noon.

"It kind of cuts my hours back," he said. "I only had 31 for the week to begin with. But you can't control the weather."

As the sound of a snow plow scraping the streets could be heard in the distance, he added: "The plow (drivers) are getting some hours today. That's about the only people."

Kegley's owner Jason Jordan arrived as they stood outside: "There's not too many idiots like me out working," Jordan said. "But I'm trying to take care of our customers. And with the (city's new) smoking ban, we need to take every dollar we can get."

Some businesses were booming as people braced for the storm.

Walmart on Stadium Boulevard was bustling Monday night with people stocking up on food and supplies. Workers couldn't stock shelves fast enough with certain items, including bottled water and D batteries, the kind that power many flashlights.

Morgan Nacy, 25, said on Monday night when she visited the store, the lack of some of the essentials was more than a little surprising.

"I went to Walmart last night at around 6 p.m. to cash my check and get a few items in case I would be snowed in," Nacy said. "When I got there one of the employees I knew told me "I hope you're not coming here to get milk, bread or eggs.' I asked why and she told me that at 4 when she came in they were totally out."

But as the storm hit on Tuesday morning, customers were sporadic as people stayed home.

At Target on Tuesday, Senior Team Leader Rita Diemler was overseeing a skeleton crew. A few customers were trickling in, some looking for sleds, she said. The store was maintaining its typical hours during the week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"It's pretty dead," she said at about noon Tuesday, as visibility outside was about 100 yards.

She said the store had "just enough" employees to keep the store open, and that she's encouraged many employees to stay home for their safety.

On Sunday and Monday, she said, customers were streaming in to stock up on supplies. "Mostly on the basics: peanut butter, bread, lunch meat, milk, anything they could use should we lose power and is ready to make," she said.

"We just want everyone to be safe," she said. "We're here and we're going to be here for the duration. If you can wait to get it, we'll be here tomorrow."

The Associated Press contributed information used in this story.