HIGH POINT, N.C. — The colder weather felt throughout the Piedmont is most felt by those who work outdoors like construction crews and street maintenance teams.
High Point street crews rake up thousands of leaves every day for 10 hours straight—a job that gets harder to do when Jack Frost starts to bite.
“I got two pair of pants, and three shirts, and a heavy jacket on,” said worker Conell Brunson.
“Your fingers don’t work as well,” said Richard McMillan, assistant director of public services. “The equipment doesn’t work as well.”
But the work still goes on for maintenance crews who’ve come up with a system for working in the cold.
“We all take turns,” Brunson said. “We all rotate.”
“We encourage them to get in the truck for 20 minutes every now and then, warm up, get the body temperature back up and then go out and do it again,” McMillan said.
But some of that hard work may come to a stop next week with temps expected to get even colder. McMillan says if it gets too cold, they’ll call crews in in the afternoon or not at all.
“Once we start getting into the single digits, we have to start thinking about our employees,” he said.
The cold temps also affect the equipment which sometimes freezes up.
“The leaves may be frozen in clumps,” McMillan said. “They may not be able to suck them up.”
The cold weather has halted most of the other High Point maintenance projects like street paving, mowing and concrete work — set to pick back up by February.
But until then, city streets will stay clear thanks to the workers braving the bitter for as long as they can.
“The harder you work, the warmer you get,” said Randy Stevens, street maintenance crew leader.