Since Sunday, Iowa State Patrol Troopers have been helping hundreds of stranded motorists and investigating crashes. Courtney Green, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, says a typical day might involve a few dozen calls. Monday was anything but typical.
“At the height of the blizzard, in that 24 hour period, we (received) 2,167 Com Center calls,” Green said. “Those are hundreds of calls for trooper service, several property damage accidents and personal injury accidents.”
At least five people were killed in traffic accidents in Iowa this week that are blamed on icy roads or blowing snow.
On Monday, the Iowa State Patrol had two vehicles totaled in weather related crashes. In both cases, the troopers were not hurt as they were out of their cars investigating crashes when their vehicles were struck. Green says a number of troopers reported blowing snow made it difficult to find stranded motorists.
“They said the eeriest part, in addition to listening to the wind howl, was just hearing the metal grinding together as accidents were happening and they were helpless to do anything to stop them,” Green said. Troopers may have saved a number of lives on the roads, but also helped a surgical patient in Fort Dodge.
The Patrol, with help from D.O.T. snowplows, delivered an emergency blood supply to a patient at Trinity Hospital who was undergoing open heart surgery. “The troopers, in spite of the weather and all their other duties, did a relay and were able to get the blood to the patient who needed it,” Green said.
Snow plow crews are dealing with the mountains of snow are working to stay ahead of it. Some areas report drifts over roadways seven feet high. Dan Waid, the Hamilton County engineer, says he had to pull the plows off the roads on Monday because of white-out conditions, but they’re now out in full force.
“We’re hoping that we can get maybe up to 5% coverage today on the gravel (roads),” Waid says. “It will take quite a bit of effort to get that. Tomorrow, it’s going to take the better part of tomorrow to get everything opened up.” Interstate 35 reopened from Ames to the Minnesota border earlier today but caution is still being recommended due to the conditions.
Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City also contributed to this story.
(photo courtesy of the Iowa State Patrol)