by Kathy Muckle, Staff Writer
A paralyzing blizzard continued to dump a heavy accumulation of snow on Kosciusko County and the entire state today.
Gov. Otis bowen declared a statewide snow emergency
at 5:30 a.m. today. County Commissioners Fred Gilliam, Gerald
Smalley and Maurice Dorsey and Civil Defense Director Sonja Creighton
declared a snow emergency for Kosciusko County at 1 a.m. today.
A snow emergency means that absolutely no one should be on area roads unless it is an extreme emergency. Sheriff John Hammersley and Warsaw Mayor H. Dale Tucker are requesting that motorists stay off all the roads and see shelter. "We also need four-wheel vehicles to assist the Civil Defense," the mayor said.
All county and state roads were closed today as result of blowing snow which drifted over the thoroughfares. "Warsaw is sealed off," William Chapel, a deputy Civil Defense worker, said. All schools and many businesses and industrial firms were also closed.
Twenty inches of snow was on the ground in Warsaw early today with the National Weather Service predicting another six inches of snow in northern Indiana tonight with winds possibly reaching 50 miles an hour. Indianapolis received the heaviest accumulation of snow. The temperature was recorded at eight degrees above zero at 9 a.m. in Warsaw, with a wind chill factor of minus 24.
The National Guard has been activated and will respond to emergency calls on a mission-to-mission basis, according to an Indiana Civil Defense spokesman. "The National Guard is helping anyone with an emergency request," according to Bob Geddes, coordinator for the Indiana Civil Defense, Indianapolis.
In what is considered one of the worst snowstorms in recent times, the National Guard has been "swamped" with calls from stranded motorists around the state. Police and a state highway crew have rescued a few stranded motorists locally.
The National Guard Armory was opened today in Warsaw, according to Chapel. No stranded motorists have been transported there yet. Chapel explained the armory was opened in preparation of persons seeking food and shelter in the county.
Power outages were reported in Rushville and Jeffersonville, according to an Indiana Civil Defense spokesman. There were no outages reported in this county.
A Civil Defense command post, as well as REACT and KEMRAD units, and the Red Cross, were mobilized at City Hall today and responding to emergency telephone calls. There was a report of county highway trucks attempting to transport an expectant mother from the southern portion of the county to a hospital. The command post (emergency) telephone numbers are 267-6626; 267-1951; 267-5735; or 267-8894.
Sheriff Hammersley reported many motorists have abandoned vehicles on county roads since the blowing snow had drifted shut all county roads. County highway crews stopped plowing roads at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and were stationed at fire departments in various small towns to make emergency runs, according to Don Forney, assistant superintendent of the county highway department. They will also attempt to open roads for fuel oil deliveries when necessary.
Two county plows were stuck early this morning, he reported, so front-end loaders were used to dig out the vehicles. Forney said that the county's sand and road salt supply will probably be exhausted at the end of this storm. Since the first snowstorm in December, county crews have used sand and salt worth $6,000. Only $12,000 was budgeted for sand and supply expenses this year.
"I believe now it is equal to what we had one year ago," Forney said of the storm, adding, "If we get another six inches, it will be worse than last year.
The driver of a county highway truck, Francis Denney, said visibility was nearly zero. Drifting, he said, seemed more severe on county roads in comparison to the city. Four state highway crews were plowing roads last night in an attempt to remove snow. They halted snow removal operations at 5 a.m. today, a state highway spokesman said. State employees have reported numerous abandoned cars on State Road 15.
Two state highway plows also got stuck in deep snowdrifts, the spokesman said. One truck, stuck on a ramp at U.S. 30 and State Rd 15, was freed from the snow when the operator of a front-end loader was sent there.
Twenty employees of the Warsaw Street Department started removing snow at 10 a.m. Wednesday and continued the operation until 4:30 p.m. After the street crews were sent home for a rest; they returned at 8:p.m. and continued plowing the white stuff.
City Streets are snow-covered and slick, but emergency vehicles can pass over them, according to a street department employee. In the meantime, road crews and Civil Defense workers are continuing snow removal and rescue operations.
Warsaw Times-Union Thursday, January 26, 1978
SNOWSTORM An 11-Year Repeat for Chicago
by Michael Rosenbaum, UPI
A fierce blizzard paralyzed traffic and closed schools across the Midwest today, pasting the Chicago area with a white coating reminiscent of the Great Blizzard of January 26, 1967.
The national Weather Service reported the strong winds were s ending wind chill factors to 40 to 60 below zero across the Midwest --and predicted matters would worsen with the arrival of bitter cold air from the northwest.
Roads were snow covered or impassable from the Dakotas to Kentucky and motels and emergency shelters quickly filled with stranded motorists. South of the snow line, rains and tornadoes blasted the Southeast.
It was 11 years ago today that a surprisingly potent snowstorm dumped 23 inches of snow in one day on the Chicago area. Today's blinding snows far out paced Chicago area road crews, who labored furiously to clear expressways and main streets.
Hopeless For Motorists
The storm cut visibility sharply and left hundreds of motorists to spin their wheels in drifts and ice patches that lined the highways. Dozens of schools and businesses failed to open their doors and some school districts that stayed open were unable to provide bus service to students.
In central Illinois, the snowbound staff of the Charleston Times-Courier put the paper to bed and held an all-night party. It wasn't certain whether any of the papers would be delivered, with all roads closed in the area.
Southern Illinois roads were glazed with ice and snow and travel became hazardous, if not impossible. State police said visibility ranged from zero to 10 feet in some areas and a 175-mile stretch of Interstate 57 was closed.
The blizzard dumped 6 inches of snow at Indianapolis, closing Indianapolis International Airport. Airport officials said they didn't expect to reopen the airport until Friday.
Indiana Gov. Otis Bowen ordered the use of National Guard armories as shelters for stranded motorists. State police reported many highways were impassable and several troopers reported themselves stranded in the snow.
All roads in western Kentucky were slammed shut today, due to accidents and snow drifts. In eastern Kentucky, a flash flood watch was in effect following heavy rains.
Tennessee had just about recovered from previous snows when a new blast hit the state Wednesday. Memphis police told motorists not to call them about minor accidents --and to wait until today to report the fender-benders.
Tornadoes and rainstorms swept across the Southeast, bringing flash flood warnings and closing roads in several states. Flash flood watches were issued in Georgia and the Carolinas. Residents in areas near earthen dams were warned to be ready to flee on a minute's notice.
High winds toppled trailers and knocked out electrical power to thousands of North Carolina residents. Several funnel clouds were sighted and fallen trees blocked several highways, but no injuries were reported. Some looting occurred in Newton, N.C. late Wednesday, but police secured the area quickly.
Tornadoes swept across Florida as a powerful storm system spread through panhandle and into the peninsula. Flash flood warnings were issued and tides were reported 1 to 3 feet above normal on the Gulf Coast.
Another tornado touched down at Calera, Ala., just south of Birmingham, but caused no injuries. Rainstorms brought new flood threats to the Northeast and the weight of the pounding rains was too much for dozens of roofs in New England.
Warsaw Times-Union Thursday, January 26, 1978
We S u r v i v e d!
Thanks to Snow Removal, Rescue Crews
by Kathy Muckle, Staff Writer
Round-the-clock rescue efforts by local Civil Defense volunteers, police, emergency medical technicians, and firemen have aided area residents in surviving a "killer" snowstorm which began pounding Kosciusko County Wednesday night.
A blizzard which paralyzed Indiana and surrounding states resulted in a statewide snow emergency declared by Gov. Otis Bowen, and a county emergency declared by County Commissioners Fredrick Gilliam, Gerald Smalley, and Maurice Dorsey and Civil Defense Director Sonja Creighton Thursday morning, remains in effect today.
A snow emergency means no one should be on area roads unless it is an extreme emergency, Civil Defense officials said.
Citizens began digging out and driving around the city Friday and are apparently hampering snow removal operations. Chief of Police Jerry Johnson said today that motorists will be stopped by Warsaw patrolmen and cited for failure to comply with snow emergency (City Ordinance 70-3-3-4). Most city streets remain closed today. A few roads have been plowed open for the use of emergency vehicles.
Orders Halt to Traffic
Warsaw Mayor H. Dale Tucker declared an emergency Thursday and ordered "all motor vehicle travel cease until the emergency is lifted. This declaration is made for the protection of life and property in the City of Warsaw."
Convoys of semi-trucks began traveling through the county Friday sometimes snarling traffic in Warsaw and blocking one lane which was opened for emergency vehicles. There were reports that truck drivers were bypassing two jackknifed trucks on U.S. 30 near Larwill.
The mayor also requested the District Boy Scout Committee to meet at City Hall with shovels so they could travel in groups and clear away snow covering fire hydrants.
When the snowstorm began Wednesday, Warsaw Street Department employees were operating six plows and four front-end loaders. Only two plows and one front-end loader are operable now. Since there has been breakage in the equipment, Mayor Tucker said, parts will be delivered by snowmobilers from different towns. After the equipment has been repaired, street crews will begin clearing snow.
Begin Digging Out
Forty county highway employees will begin plowing roads today and attempt to open at least one lane. Many roads were closed last night by drifting snow, according to Don Forney, assistant superintendent of the county highway department. "We're going to push ourselves," Forney said. There are reports of abandoned autos on the county roads which could hamper snow removal.
Although all county roads are closed, they will be open by late next week, he speculated. "I expect to hire some outside contractors," he commented, "to assist in clearing roads" County highway officials are urging motorists to stay off the roads until two lanes are open.
Thirty-five state highway employees began plowing the roads at 6:30 a.m. today and will continue working until the state roads have been opened. State roads will be open by Monday a state highway spokesman said. Abandoned vehicles which could slow down the removal operation will be moved.
Both county and state highway crews have been assisting stranded motorists this week, as well as plowing a path for emergency vehicles.
"It's the worst one I've seen in Indiana," John Barnhart, general foreman of the state highway department said.
Besides the stranded motorists at the American Legion and 30 Pierceton Truck Plaza in Pierceton, the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department learned early today that five families residing at the Tillman Trailer Court in Yellow Creek lake had no food.
Phillips Addition residents were without (water) Friday night when a water main broke and water gushed onto Robin Dr. Four Water Utilities Inc. repairmen repaired the main in five and one-half hours.
Telephone service was disrupted in Claypool Friday, according to a General Telephone Company spokesman. There were no reports of power outages in the county. Police also said there have been no weather-related deaths in Kosciusko County. Winona Lake workers have opened all roads but three blocks of Court and one block of Short St., according to an official. They will begin clearing parking lots to park cars there. They are asking that churching parking lots also be cleared.
Oscar Schmucker, a Multi-Township emergency medical technician, related he could not get to work from his home in Milford since the snowstorm began Wednesday night. He observed a ConRail snowplow train clearing the tracks in Milford Friday night and asked the crew for a lift to Warsaw since snowmobiles were unable to go through high drifts. After they obliged, he jumped aboard and arrived here in one hour. "They were out clearing the drifts," he said. Schmucker thanked ConRail workers for letting him ride to Warsaw. He says now he plans to stay here indefinitely.
The Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department ambulance log listed eight emergency runs Friday, including a juvenile in the county jail who required transportation to a hospital. The youth complained of stomach pains around noon Saturday and was taken to KCH, returning to the jail at 8 p.m.
Friday morning civil defense responded to two calls for food and another for house fuel on County Rd. 900 South. Civil defense was also required to pick up insulin at a doctor's office in Bourbon for emergency delivery to Atwood.
As with all departments the snow has prevented employees from reaching their place of work. Several county officers had snowmobiles to drive to the county jail. However, County Patrolman Alan Rovenstine in Atwood was the only officer who was able to drive a police auto to the Sheriff's Department building, authorities at the jail reported.
The families of Robert Lozier, Rt. 6, Chapman Lake, and Gene Messmore, Rt. 1, Warsaw, Whispering Oaks, both had to dump milk produced on their dairy farms. The Messmore's began dumping milk on Friday morning after the limit was reached on a 250-gallon bulk cooler. Neighbors were contacted to see if there was need for any milk.
Brent Messmore, 14, fixed a wooden box to the end of a snowmobile and hauled 62 gallons of milk Friday to nearby neighbors. Mrs. Messmore (Kosciusko County clerk) stated, "He was dead tired when he got done. but it was fun and we felt we helped the neighbors."
Both the Messmore's and Lozier's milk is hauled by Burger Dairy of New Paris. The milk truck has not been able to reach the two homes since the blizzard conditions.
The Lozier's began dumping milk Thursday evening at 2,000 pounds a day. Both families reported that any families that need milk are welcome to have some--if they can reach Lozier and Messmore households.
Warsaw Times Union Saturday, January 28, 1978
60 Stranded in Pierceton
Staffed by more than a dozen bone-weary and at times frightened volunteers the Pierceton Community Building became the temporary residence last night for an estimated 60 stranded motorists.
Problems began to occur early last evening when truck drivers already more than a day delayed because of the midwest-wide blizzard decided to wait no longer and travel across U.S. 30 whether it was open or not.
A truck reportedly jackknifed near the Allen County line blocking the road just as a convoy of trucks moved through this area. In the early afternoon more than 20 semi tractor-trailers were allowed to pass through downtown Warsaw as part of that convoy, even though the city was officially closed to all traffic.
Shortly after sunset last night the Civil Defense command post at the City hall in Warsaw began to receive reports of a massive traffic jam involving more than 100 trucks and numerous autos in the Larwill and Pierceton area of eastbound dual lane U.S. 30. Reports from C.B.'ers and panic stricken volunteers said the situation was getting out of hand and if traffic were not stopped immediately the jam-up would soon be affecting the Warsaw area.
At this point Warsaw Mayor Dale Tucker contacted the Ligonier State Police post and requested assistance in closing U.
S. 30 to all traffic ahead of this county. The duty officer at Ligonier who was stranded himself and had no cars on the road told the mayor to handle it himself.
Tucker contacted the State Police Superintendent's office at Indianapolis for assistance and was also told that there was nothing they could do to help at this point. Faced with what appeared to be impending disaster and a possibly large influx of stranded motorists into this area Civil Defense Deputy Directory William Chapel contacted the CD headquarters in Indianapolis. Officials promised to seal off U.S. 30 at the intersection of U.S. 31 within one-half hour.
Meanwhile County Police Patrolman Alan Rovenstine and other sheriff's deputies were sent to the Pierceton area for assistance in handling any problems with truckers or stranded motorists. The local Civil Defense command post also dispatched four four-wheel drive vehicles with radios to Pierceton to help with traffic control.
Fear of Problems
At the Pierceton Community Building the main fear was that a large number of stopped angry truckers would attempt to hinder their operations. However the truckers stayed at the Pierceton Plaza or drove on around the traffic snarl by traveling east in the west bound lane of U.S. 30 and did not bother local operations.
Stranded motorists were bedded down on pads on the floor of the community center and volunteers worked throughout the night even though exhausted to make the stranded persons as comfortable as possible.
Warsaw Times Union Saturday, January 28, 1978
The thermometer--registering 5 above at press time today --hasn't wavered much in the past 24 hours. Winds continue today in the county at 15 miles per hour, making the wind chill factor 25 below. Partly cloudy skies prevailed in Kosciusko County Friday, and the moments of sunshine were the brightest spots on the weather horizon. On top of an estimated 14-inch snowfall dumped by the blizzard since Wednesday night, wet, sleet-like precipitation came tumbling out of the clouds late Friday night. The forecast is for variable cloudiness and cold with a chance of snow flurries through Sunday. Highs today and Sunday in the teens. Lows tonight zero to 5 above. Precipitation probabilities: 30 percent today and 40 both tonight and tomorrow. Indiana extended outlook, Monday through Wednesday: Fair Monday, a chance of snow Tuesday and clearing Wednesday. Lows near zero Monday, moderating into the teens by Wednesday. Highs in the 20s.
Warsaw Times Union Saturday January 28, 1978