At least one highway closed by this week’s winter storm was closed again briefly this morning as tow trucks hauled half-a-dozen semi-trailer trucks out of the ditch near a rest stop at Altoona. It can be costly and time-consuming to have a corner garage tow your car from the roadside when it’s broken down or slid off a slippery road, but when it’s a really big vehicle, the job may take a specialized towing company. Julie Hanifen is C-E-O of a heavy-duty towing firm in Des Moines and knows what it takes to handle that kind of big job. “A lot of equipment, and a lot of experience,” she says. Her company has seven heavy-duty wreckers all with “wheel lifts,” and winches that can reel in a load from 25-thousand to 45-thousand pounds, as well as flatbed trailers and special trucks to carry away the cargo that’s spilled. Her company got the call to clean up a chocolate spill near Waukee during the snowstorm Wednesday morning. The chocolate goes to a landfill, after she says they had to use a snowplow to shovel the chocolate chips off the pavement. More typical is a recent case in which her people and vehicles took the cargo from a wrecked truck on to the company where it was unloaded. She didn’t want to talk about the cost, but saying depending on how much time and equipment the job takes, it can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars to retrieve a wrecked truck and haul away its cargo. She’s never had a job Hainfen’s equipment couldn’t handle, she says, and will get almost all her jobs taken care of before the end of the day today. Hanifen says she had about fifty semis to tow Thursday and will tow another 35 or 40 today. They don’t do pigs, if livestock escapes from a truck accident. She says the highway patrol has a list of people they call for “livestock operations,” mainly because her company doesn’t have the right kind of trailers to haul livestock. Hanifen runs a family business that’s operated in central Iowa for more than 8 decades.
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