Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Bombagetti says county highway crews are doing their best to clear the roads.
“They are having a heck of a time trying to get through the drifts from last night. The winds did not subside as early as anticipated. Once plows do go through, being that it is so cold, abrasives are not working all. All of the roads have ice packs underneath them. That’s why we’ve gone to a state of emergency,” said Bombagetti.
Bombagetti urges anyone with questions about road conditions or the emergency declaration to call his office at 574-772-9182. Do not call 911 or the Starke County Sheriff’s Office unless you have a true emergency, as dispatchers are busy fielding calls.
He adds county officials will meet later today to reevaluate the county travel warning and emergency declaration.
“Our big concern once we get through the snow is the extreme cold temperatures that are going to be coming at us. We’re looking at a possibility of a high tomorrow of only negative 7, and that’s not without wind chill. We’ve got the double whammy again. We’ve got the snow, and then we’ve got the sub-freezing temperatures coming our way.”
Bombagetti stresses county officials are taking this weather very seriously.
“Since we are under a warning level which also includes a disaster declaration, only – I’m repeating ONLY – emergency vehicles are to be on the road.”
Bombagetti adds the declaration was put into place for the sake of safety and not to inconvenience anyone.
“If you happen to be stuck at work and you want to come home, all I’m going to tell everybody is that good and common sense is what’s going to drive. I’m here telling you that only emergency vehicles are supposed to be on the roadway. Most factories are very cognizant of that fact. Ultimately it’s going to be the individual’s choice. Hopefully they make it home safe. There is that potential to be cited for their action.”
Bombagetti stresses that there are several factors to consider should you decide to chance it on the roads.
“If you become stranded, stuck in the snow, being that it’s sub-freezing out there. It’s your safety, but now we have to send first responders out to go out, and we put them in jeopardy. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. For your action, you’re going to put other people into harm’s way.”