You didn’t even have to step out the front door or look out the window last night in Hamlet, Indiana. The sounds of the wind shaking the windows and the town siren calling for emergency action volunteers all night was enough of an indication that all was not well in this small town.
Road crews worked through the night to try and keep traveling safe, but even their best efforts didn’t make these roads passable. Local officials may have urged the public to stay off the roads, but that doesn’t always work. Many Starke County citizens felt the urge to stock up on supplies in fear that the harsh weather would last for more than just a day or too. In fact, Oregon-Davis schools cancelled classes for Monday by 7 PM Sunday night in preparation for the winter storms.
As of the 2009 Census, Starke County, Indiana has a population of 23,530 in about 309 sq. miles. Given the population and area, it’s easy to see that this is a rural area with its own unique travel issues. It’s even a running joke that most peoples’ vehicles can find the way home for them because they are so familiar with the roads. This might be some of the reason for the 11 accidents and 28 cars and trucks that were reported to the Starke County dispatch to have slid off the road last night. Residents may have overestimated their comfort level and driving abilities as they attempted to travel rural roads and highways.
Since Starke County is such a rural area, the farm land actually has a vast impact on the driving conditions. If you aren’t from the area you may not realize the dangers of traveling back roads whose ditches fill and smooth over so that you aren’t quite sure if it’s a ditch or part of the field.
If you’re traveling through Starke County during inclement weather, you might want to take a few precautions just to be safe. The road crews can only do their job as well as travelers allow them to. That means that if you are on the road during bad weather, you’ve just become part of the problem rather than the solution. Road crews can do their job best if they don’t have to work around travelers.
It’s best just to use common sense and not travel unless you have to. In rural areas like this, traveling can be dangerous and it may even be difficult for help to get to you if you happen to slide off the road. Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. Less traffic on the roads makes it easier for road crews to work as well as allowing for minimal traffic so that those who actually do have emergencies to tend to have the ability to do so.
It would also be a good idea to keep in mind what these road crews and emergency workers do. They are out working all hours of the night to try to keep people safe. That means that they leave their families and go out in the cold to take care of their responsibilities to the county or city. Cut them some slack and spare them the road rage if it happens to take you a bit longer to go get that pack of cigarettes or pop that you’re heading to the gas station for. Remember that it’s your safety they have in mind.
Starke County Sherrif’s Office: Dispatch