Whipping winds are sealing off roads with monster snowdrifts shortly after they’re plowed, prompting officials in southwest Iowa’s Pottawattamie County to make a disaster declaration and ask for state help in clearing the roads. Jeff Theulen, the county’s emergency management coordinator, says people in rural areas east of Council Bluffs need medical attention.
“One family may be a mile or two down a road so we’re using a lot of resources to get to that one family,” he says. Theulen says exhausted county crews are having to clear the same roads over and over again. He says the county is requesting help from state snow removal squads as some drifts are up to 18-feet in height.
Theulen says, “In some cases, we’ve opened a road and five or six hours later, have come back and found it to be closed again because of the wind and the snow starting up again.” While the storm hit late last week, only about a quarter of the county’s rural gravel roads are passable. He says most secondary paved roads in the county are open but many are one-lane travel.
Theulen says, “Some of the drifts we’ve seen out in the Treynor and Macedonia area have been 18-feet in some of the rural areas.” Theulen says the county crews have worked almost non-stop since the snow started flying last week.
“I can’t say enough about these secondary road guys,” Theulen says. “They have not had a holiday. They have worked from Christmas Eve until today and it looks like their fate is going to be a lot longer yet.” The forecast calls for the chance of more snow tonight and tomorrow, perhaps another three inches for parts of southern Iowa.
The Department of Transportation says the Governor has declared a state of emergency allowing them to move trucks and other equipment into Shelby, Crawford, Harrison and Pottawattamie counties to help with the situation.