Rushville Republican

December 17, 2013

Recent snow brings back memories of '78

By Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

---- — The recent snow storm brought back memories of the grand old storm of the 1978 Blizzard. And yes there was a huge difference. I have pictures of snow drifts along 3 north of my home that are higher than the car in the picture. There were semi trailers that were actually covered up by the snow and caused all kinds of problems to those attempting to clear the roads to traffic. I live right on 3 and had absolutely no traffic for three days, no nothing…no trucks or cars or people. I think this was no doubt one of the first times that everyone radios, TV, all media warned that this could be a dinger, and it was. Power was out for many in the county. We were out for three days and by the time they got it back on I was ready for it too.

We slept and pretty well stayed by and cooked in our wood fireplace. At no time did the temperature get below 60 in the house which I felt was an accomplishment. I had a long line of wood across the drive from the garage so every morning I would go out and bring in a days supply of wood. We had no idea how long the power would be out, but I knew we could survive with the wood we had chopped for the winter.

I would stack the wood in the garage to allow it to dry out a little before being used. Patty cooked in the fire place and we had the prettiest, most delicious chicken and dumplings she ever made those three days we cooked the hard way. Things were so bad we could not get out and about or far from the house. I never did make it to 3 until we got the drive plowed out. A lot of people bought snow plows after that blizzard and a lot of snowmobiles were purchased too.

We survived with our sleeping bags for everyone and sleeping in front of the fire place. I would get up during the night and stoke the fire once or twice, and make a trip to the bathroom. We still had water service and sewer as Milroy still had electricity even if we could not get into town for groceries. I had for some reason decided to stop by the grocery on the way home, just in case. I sort of got carried away and ended up with over $80 in groceries. Patty told me I was nuts, but she guessed we could use what I had purchased over time. And she was later on glad I had gotten additional milk and bread. I even got paper products and cleaning materials too.

Milroy had gotten its ambulance the year before and this was our first winter with the ambulance service. During the storm, a farmer south east of town had a heart attack. We received the call for the ambulance and toned out the crew. I would have gone, but could not even get out of the house let alone to town. Four of our EMT’s and the ambulance along with county snow plows and state plows as well as sheriff cars headed out into the storm. I don’t remember how long it took for them to get into Rushville, but it was a very long time just to get to the farm house. With the help of the county people and state trucks along with a front end loader they did finally get into Rushville and to the hospital.

The four EMT’s on the ambulance and the ambulance stayed in town four days before they could get back to Milroy. They made runs using Army 6 bye trucks and tracked vehicles. They stayed at the Rushville Fire Department and worked out of their facility going where needed and doing what they could for those in need. I think those who were in town (Rushville) did find that they were busy much more so than if they were back in Milroy. We appreciated the hospitality of the RFD and their continued support during the storm and its aftermath.

Things were really messed up for an extended period of time. Schools were out so long the state had to give the school corporations exemptions so they would have the required number of days that were required. The schools were out over a week closer to two weeks and although the students were happy their parents might not have been.

The blizzard was widespread from Colorado to the east coast everything was stuck and snowed in and under. States all the way back to Colorado were struggling with more snow than they had ever seen before and along with the wind oh boy what a mess. Interstates were closed for extended periods and truck and cars stranded along the road for days.

It was difficult, but we all survived and learned a hard lesson from that storm. I personally found out I really should have checked out the back door a little sooner than I did. Never did any of us think about the brand new Mini Motor home sitting fueled, full of LP and stocked with food and supplies right outside the garage. We could have lived in the darn thing much more comfortably but never thought about it. What a surprise when we turned the corner and there was this comfortable living thing we had completely missed. And the funny thing to me was this was when I was a lot younger than I am now.