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Salt Shortage Taking Big Toll Across Area

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- For Hempfield Township's director of Public Works, this morning's road salt supply numbers were scary.

"This morning, we were down to 50 tons of mix and 100 tons of salt," said Mike Volpe. "We would have not been able to salt all the hills in the township."

KDKA's Ross Guidotti Reports:

However, unanticipated heavy snow and a township disaster proclamation forced the state to pass on the salt.

"PennDOT gave us the 100 ton," said Volpe. "We were able to get some anti-skid material, so we have some 50-50 mix ready to go for this weekend's storm.

But to say Hempfield, or for that matter, the many salt short communities in Westmoreland County are good to go is way too optimistic.

"We still have another month of winter left so we're not out of the woods yet," said Volpe.

The unprecedented salt shortage has many in Volpe's position for lack of a better word, salty. The state contractor that is supposed to supply the sodium has allegedly failed.

"Probably six years ago we had a salt issue, it only lasted for a weekend," Volpe said. "This has been ongoing almost a month now."

Volpe: "We have numerous calls into our supplier, American Rock Salt, and the State of General Services just trying to get an idea or answer of where the salt is at."

KDKA's Ross Guidotti: "What they telling you?

Volpe: "They're not answering the phones. We leave messages. They say we'll be on the schedule the next day, and that next day is never showing up."

Meanwhile, you would have thought Rolliers Hardware in Mount Lebanon had the winning Powerball numbers after the store sent out an email blast that it had salt, while supplies last.

"Salt, salt, salt - that's all I hear from the wife, 'We've got to get more salt,' so here I am," said one customer.

In one door they went, and out the other came the salt.

KDKA's John Shumway Reports:

"I live on a hill and my driveway is a hill, so I have to keep it salted constantly," another customer said.

The Rolliers supply was going fast, so owner Doug Satterfield took us on a tour of alternatives for your sidewalk or driveway.

He began with his top recommendation – sand.

"[Sand] is going to give you good traction," said Satterfield. "This is probably the best alternative to not having any salt… put sand down so you can walk to your car over the ice and snow."

A bag of gravel will also give you something to walk on, but be careful if you go the cat litter route.

"It's clay-based, so when it melts, it could get slimy and slippery. But right now when it's cold, it won't melt and it will give you traction," said Satterfield.

But be ready to sweep it up when things start melting.

Then, there's lawn fertilizer.

"If you've got some, and you want to throw it down, it will work," said Satterfield. "It's got urea nitrogen in it and it will burn through some snow and ice."

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