Rushville Republican

January 29, 2013

1978 featured a “real” blizzard

Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — OK, kitty kats, our recent snow storm was a good one, a doozey to all us old geezers, but nowhere near the 1978 blizzard. I have pictures that would certainly show that the 2013 storm was a winger-dinger, but still not a ‘78 type. In 1978 I owned and operated a small manufacturing plant in Rushville and now as then lived in the Milroy area. I was also on the Anderson Township Volunteer Fire Department and ambulance service. And because of this I tended to take things a bit more seriously than my wife at times. All day long the radio was trumpeting the upcoming blizzard (and they meant blizzard, too!). They forecasted a lot of snow; a lot of snow and wind and cold all at one time, which would indeed make it a true blizzard.

I was not noted for bringing groceries home at the time so when I showed up one evening with about $85 worth of food my wife Patty showed more than a passing interest is why I had done this thing. At this time, $85 was a goodly amount of goodies and I had attempted to get things that we would need normally and liked. Patty’s attitude was at least it was something we could use normally so if it was not as forecast it would still be used. Milk and bread, in particular, as well as a whole chicken and snack food and assorted other items.

As things turned out, we did indeed have one huge blizzard and one that actually did what the radio said it would, and more! Heavy snow and lots of wind made life miserable for a day or so. And, of course, in the middle of the evening we got a call for the ambulance needed at a farm southeast of Milroy. I couldn’t get out of my drive and many others could not either. A few hardy souls managed to make it to the fire house and get the ambulance out, but how to get to the farm? A fast call was put in to the county highway department asking for their help. They were great and sent two snow plows to help get us to the farm and hopefully back to Rushville.

Our ambulance and three individuals managed to get to the farmer and get him back to Rushville, but we were unable to get the ambulance back to Milroy. So, our EMTs and ambulance remained in Rushville for three days before they could get back to Milroy and home. Boy, was my wife glad I was stuck at home and with the family (and I was too, to be truthful). Our crew managed to stay in Rushville and made numerous runs using Army trucks and lots of snow removing equipment. We were all proud of our men and ladies who gave up in reality three days of their lives for their friends and neighbors.

I live right on SR 3 and not only could I not get out for three days there was no traffic of any kind on 3 for that time. The state and county didn’t have to declare a snow emergency, Mother Nature managed to do that all by herself. The blizzard was really widespread and managed to snow in a number of states with Indiana right there in the forefront. A lot of silly stories and tales came from the several days of isolation, but most managed to survive. My factory was completely shut down for a week as even my employees who lived in Rushville were unable to get out and to the plant. All our customers had my home phone number as well as that of the plant so they would keep in touch with me and I with them, both attempting to try and see when we might be able to get back into production.

Most of the plants all over the state were unable to do much if anything so we all found ourselves in the same boat for a time. The National Guard as well as the stone quarry and any and all farm equipment that could shovel snow were put into the mix. Even with everything they could muster it took three days at the minimum to get even a small number of roads clear enough of snow to allow traffic to use them. So many individuals and organizations all came together and did a great job overall during this time. As bad as things were they could have been much worse. Neighbor was helping neighbor and through it all we were all friends and neighbors no matter how things were usually.

WRCR was on the air and fed information to the county as to what was going on and when they might be able to get out. Of course, there were those idiots who thought it was great to get out and make a problem for others who may need to be doing something else. I was proud of all out firemen and women and how they conducted themselves during this true emergency. After all was said and done I felt the county, state and even federal governments did a pretty good job of getting things back to a semblance of normalcy as soon as they could. We all pulled together and showed just what Hoosier hospitality was.

So, youngsters, just remember: no matter how bad this snow storm was we oldsters know what it is to have a true blizzard. The schools had a two week snow emergency and the state had to enact legislation to allow the schools to not fulfill the then required number of school days. Yep, sure was a good one.