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January 7, 2014

Governor: Please stay off the roads

Common sense should rule decisions, Pence says.

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence repeated calls for Hoosiers to stay off snow-covered roads and remain at home, sheltered against dangerous sub-zero temperatures gripping much of the state, during a Monday press conference.

“This is a very serious time in the life of our state – a very serious time for the communities in our state,” said Pence, who held the briefing in a basement room in the Statehouse with emergency officials. “We are still in the midst of a very dangerous winter storm.”

Schools in much of the state were canceled Monday. Portions of several interstates remained closed because of wind gusts that made them hazardous. Another 22 state highways were closed.

As of Monday morning, about 46,500 households in Indiana were without power, and utilities were warning that it would take several days to get those homes back on line.

Officials urged residents to stay home for at least another day, and businesses to remain closed while the deep freeze continues.

Pence said people who heed those warnings minimize the potential damage to life and limb. As of Monday morning, only one traffic death had been attributed to Sunday’s snowfall, which reached 15 inches in the northern and central parts of the state.

A second death was attributed to weather Monday morning, when an Indianapolis woman had a heart attack Monday while venturing into temperatures that were 15 degrees below zero.

Pence said both deaths are tragic but the toll could have been higher had residents ignored warnings that began issuing from the governor’s office on Friday.

“Our greatest natural resource in the state of Indiana is our common sense,” he said before adding an oft-repeated warning: “Hoosiers need to know, we’re not out of this yet.”

The combination of heavy snow, gusting winds, and artic temperatures nearly paralyzed much of the state. As of Monday morning, 52 counties had issued “travel warnings,” forbidding all but emergency vehicles from the roads. Another 27 counties declared disaster emergencies. Pence said that number would likely grow.

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