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Porter County drivers staying home

Jill Perry puts finishing touches snow cave she was making for her children while clearing her driveway Clairborne Crossing Valparaiso

Jill Perry puts the finishing touches on a snow cave she was making for her children while clearing her driveway on Clairborne Crossing in Valparaiso, Ind. Wednesday Feb. 2, 2011. Perry, a flight attendant for American Airlines, had was supposed to travel to Seattle but was happy to be at home instead. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 2, 2011 9:46PM



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

Officials said this morning that advance warning about the storm helped, setting it apart from the mid-December storm that stranded motorists on area roads.

A snow emergency went into effect at 3 p.m. Tuesday and remains in effect for the time being.

“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, with the Porter County Sheriff’s Department. He said deputies are riding in pairs in seven four-by-four 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.”

The Porter County Highway Department has 29 drivers in plows now and is working to keep the main arteries in the county clear, said David James, the department’s assistant supervisor. Plows will get to subdivisions and other secondary roads later.

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.”

With a heavy band of snow expected to hit the region as it moves out of Chicago, Phil Griffith, director of the Porter County Emergency Management Agency, said the county could still see snowfall totals in the 18- to 24-inch range by the time the storm is over.

He estimated the county had seen about 16 inches of snow as of this morning.

“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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