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Coming to a crawl

Crawford, Harrison declare state of emergencies to keep drivers off roads

March 12, 2008
The area was hit with a double-whammy on Friday and into Saturday, when one of the biggest snow storms since 1998 blasted several Southern Indiana counties.

Traffic on I-64 is limited to one lane during the big snowstorm Saturday morning. (Photo by Wade Bell)
Heavy snow began on Friday morning, slacked off a while Friday afternoon and then began again just hours later, dumping a total of over 12 inches of snow in some areas by Saturday morning.

In Harrison County on Friday, the police scanner was busy with reports of slide-offs and fender-benders. That evening, officials declared a snow emergency.

"By late Friday, the highway department just couldn't keep up with everything mother nature was throwing at us," Harrison EMA Director Greg Reas said. "We conferred with the county commissioners, gave them the best information we had, and about 10:15 Friday evening, they declared a snow emergency.

"We work closely with them, but the final decision is theirs. The snow emergency is put in place when the conditions are too bad for most traffic to be on the roads," he said. "If there's no traffic on the roads, it's then possible for county highway equipment to plow a path through for emergency vehicles if needed.

"County highway workers have really worked hard for an extended amount of time. They've worked every hour that the law allows, and have done a great job."

Late Friday and Saturday morning, high winds caused drifting on many of the roads that run east and west. Some drifts were reported to be over five feet deep.

Early Saturday morning, Scott Blackman plowed through Lotticks Corner Road near Elizabeth with a county road grader. An hour later, Mike Bailey came through with a snow plow on his dumptruck and was plowing snow almost as deep as Blackman had earlier.

"We've had a hard time keeping up," Bailey said. "Everybody has been steadily at it since yesterday morning. I stopped by home, took a little nap, and hit it again. We're doing the best we can to keep a lane open on most of the roads, but I'll be glad when this is over."

In Crawford County, commissioners declared a snow emergency around midnight Friday.

"Our highway workers have been doing the best they can," Crawford EMA Director Kent Barrow said on Saturday morning, "but it's been tough. Interstate 64 is down to one lane, and it's not real good.

"Here, in Crawford County, many of the backroads are not passable. On Friday, we had a tractor and a grader hung up. We had 34 slide-offs, but most of those were on the interstate. We have two semi trucks off the road today and a lot of trucks are having problems.

"People need to know that during a snow emergency, they need to stay off the roads, and not call 911 unless it's an emergency."

Both counties canceled the snow emergencies on Saturday evening as county road crews began to catch up. Sunday afternoon was like a calm after the storm. The sun was out and the snow melted in many grassy areas.

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