Recently we experienced a blizzard that closed roads, prevented or delayed producers from being able to get to livestock, caused businesses to shutdown and schools to close.
We haven't seen a blizzard like that for a long time.
Warnings go out. They go out over WENS system, radio and TV. Local citizens did a great job in listening to and observing the warnings, the no travel advisory and staying put.
However, at the sheriff's office the phone began to ring advising us of stranded motorists. Many were along the Hwy. 218 corridor but some were off on county blacktops.
I called deputies to work overtime as many of these folks had spent the night in their cars and were low on food and fuel.
I am estimating somewhere around 40 folks were rescued from their stuck vehicles. A few people I encountered Sunday morning had never seen a blizzard before.
With the help of secondary roads and the maintainers, a path was plowed on Hwy 218 north of St. Ansgar to State line road.
During this blizzard, if it had not been for our secondary roads department, my office would not have been able to move.
Arriving on State Line Road I took three ladies out of their stranded vehicle. These ladies were from Zimbabwe in South Africa. They were all smiles when Larry Wolf plowed a path right to the driver's door of their vehicle. I can only imagine what they were thinking at that very moment.
Turning around and returning to St. Ansgar they were dropped off at an area church and after a couple of days were back on their way.
Also during the storm I met a truck driver from Jamaica. Many of you saw the semi rolled over on it's side north of Osage, that was him.
We tried to get him stopped in Osage but we were to late, he got stopped a few minutes later.
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Many Hispanic travelers were assisted during the storm as well. Trying to get to their home or place of employment seemed to be the reoccurring theme with these folks.
Hours of overtime with the deputies, dispatchers and even jail staff occurred during these events.
I'm thankful my staff is always willing to help and work these long hours to get the job done.
This event was a coordinated effort between my office and the guys at secondary roads.
Together we were able to get the job done and help many people.
It is important to recognize some area businesses helped my office during this time.
City Limits in St. Ansgar donated meals for the family from Zimbabwe. Mikey Buringrud even delivered the food to the church. Casey's in St. Ansgar also provided food. The Osage Motel and Super 8 along with the AmericInn and the Blue Belle Inn all took travelers in with just a phone call from my office. What a community effort.
Thank you for everything you did for these folks and for my office.
I am certainly glad this event is over and we, at the sheriff's office, look forward to spring.
With the changing seasons, new challenges will arise, but knowing I can count on the communities we serve, helps my office tremendously during times of emergency.
Be safe this spring, producers will start to move soon and kids will be on their bikes, so slow down and be extra careful on the roadways.