Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

January 7, 2014

OUR VIEW: Heed the warnings and stay home

We watched and reported as cities and counties throughout our coverage area declared states of emergency as the winter storm got progressively worse on Sunday. With the road conditions deteriorating with each passing hour, we fully expected area leaders to take that course of action. Anyone with a window should have expected the declarations to be made.

But we must say we were quite dismayed it took Cass County officials so long to make the right call. Looking at a statewide map of counties’ declared status, Cass County was awash in a sea of red. Every county touching Cass had upgraded their status to red, meaning no one was to be on the roads except for emergency vehicles. You had to go several counties away on that map to find anything but red.

And there’s good reason for that. It’s bad out there. No, it’s horrible out there. A blizzard warning was even declared for our area. As if the massive amount of snow falling wasn’t enough of a problem, plow crews were also being hit hard by blowing and drifting snow. They were fighting a losing battle. Even though the snow has stopped, they still find themselves fighting a losing battle with high winds.

And if Mother Nature wasn’t causing enough problems for road crews on Sunday, abandoned vehicles blocking roadways weren’t helping their cause any. The drivers of those vehicles found out the hard way that this isn’t your average winter storm. Efforts that should have been focused on clearing the roadways were being spent on rescuing stranded drivers. And in many cases, they were drivers who shouldn’t have been out in the first place.

This is a whole new beast we’re dealing with, folks. Plow crews are encountering snow drifts measuring 2 to 4 feet deep. They’re finding four-wheel drives can’t even make it through. And considering as such, a state of emergency should have been declared much earlier than it was.

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