KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — As West Michiganders get ready for the snowstorm ahead, local agencies are also preparing behind the scenes.
FOX 17 caught up with Kalamazoo County's Office of Emergency Management to learn how they're preparing to help keep people safe.
"Takes a lot of cooperation, a lot of agencies working together. It is a true community effort, so it is pretty impressive," said Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management Mitigation Planner and Public Information Officer Andy Alspach.
In Kalamazoo County, preparations for the first winter storm of 2022 has been in the works — specifically around the five miles of construction on I-94.
"It is about $10 million a day of consumers and economic activity that passes through here, and that is a lot of money. It is a lot of moving parts again. It is every day we are on the edge about this," said Alspach.
Factoring in bad driving conditions does not help, the office says.
"We’ve had some big problems in the past, and we’d like to avoid that. That was primarily speed, but once there is an accident, people start looking around, and they lose their focus from the road, and that is where we get real problems," said Alspach.
It all starts with the National Weather Service who then communicates with the Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Kalamazoo County Road Commission as well as EMS, fire and law enforcement.
"There is a comprehensive plan to deal with traffic diversions in case we have an accident or stalled vehicle within the zone because that creates its own problems. We can’t get EMS or tow trucks in front ways; they have to back down, so we have to shut lanes off, and so it is a lot of moving parts," said Alspach.
The Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management said if you have to travel on New Year's Day, travel early. But if you can stay off the road, that is the best bet. If you have to drive, keep this message in mind.
"Really it is visibility and people just slowing down. That is the most important thing you can do is just slow down," said Alspach.
READ MORE: Your West Michigan forecast