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Porter County drivers stay off streets

Jennie AllevChestertfilms waves Lake Michigan crashing over mounds snow Dunes ChestertWednesday February 2 2011.  Jennie was making video show

Jennie Alleva of Chesterton films the waves on Lake Michigan crashing over mounds of snow at the Dunes in Chesterton on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. Jennie was making a video to show friends and family from other areas what the snow was like in Chesterton. | Holly Coleman~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 24, 2011 3:34AM



Porter County motorists seemed to listen to dire warnings about the blizzard, staying off the roads and making a challenging situation easier for snowplows and law enforcement alike Wednesday.

Advance warning about the storm helped, officials said, setting it apart from the mid-December storm that stranded motorists on area roadways.

A snow emergency went into effect at 3 p.m. Tuesday and will continue until about noon Thursday, per order of the county commissioners. All county government offices will again be closed Thursday.

“Actually, everybody did a real good job adhering to all the warnings with the storm coming and staying off the roads,” said Cpl. Larry LaFlower, of the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, adding deputies were riding in pairs in seven, 4-by-4 vehicles to respond to emergency calls.

Drivers who abandon their vehicles and return to find them impounded should check with the sheriff’s department after the storm clears to find out where they have been towed.

Still, LaFlower said, that’s been far less of a problem than it was last month, adding the number of abandoned cars this time around has been “very minimal.”

Valparaiso police reported things were “extremely quiet” in that community.

“I think everyone’s taken the warning to heart and stayed home,” said Sgt. Mike Grennes, public information officer for the Valparaiso Police Department.

He added that the city is asking drivers not to park on main thoroughfares or city streets to assist the street department in clearing snow and so emergency vehicles can get through. Police may impound any vehicle that’s in the way.

The South Haven Volunteer Fire Department used its department-owned plow to clear the way for an ambulance to get through Tuesday night and again this morning, said Ron Bremer Jr., the department’s chief.

“For the most part, it seems like everything’s been pretty quiet,” he added.

The Porter County Highway Department had 29 drivers out in plows working to keep the main arteries in the county clear, said David James, the department’s assistant supervisor.

Plow drivers have been on detail to help get police officers get to and from work, but other than that have focused on clearing snow.

“We didn’t get as much snow as expected, but the wind was our enemy all night and still is,” James said. “Fortunately, we’re seeing minimal traffic. People are getting the message, and that’s good.”

Though the blizzard warning ended at 3 p.m. Wednesday, the storm isn’t over, said Phil Griffith, director of the Porter County Emergency Management Agency.

“Once the snow stops, we’re not out of the woods yet. We’ve still got the wind,” he said, adding the county will still be under blizzard conditions. “I can simply hope everybody does what they’ve done so far and pays attention, and stays home.”



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