Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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January 8, 2014

Miami Co. fights persistent drifting

Over 125 snow-related accidents reported since Sunday.

PERU — Although road conditions have improved since around a foot of snow dumped on Miami County Sunday, officials say driving conditions still remain dangerous as drifting continues to plague county roadways.

On Tuesday, county officials downgraded travel conditions from a warning to watch, allowing residents to legally drive on essential errands like going to work or medical appointments.

The city of Peru switched to a watch Monday morning.

Even so, officials are warning drivers to use caution and only drive when necessary.

“It’s a lot better than it was, but it’s still not good,” said Miami County Sheriff Tim Miller. “The roads are nowhere near normal. It’s definitely still threatening out there.”

Since Sunday, nasty road conditions have kept emergency responders swamped. By Tuesday afternoon, city and county officers had responded to more than 125 snow-related incidents including slide offs, accidents and vehicles stuck in the snow, according the county emergency 911 dispatch.

Miller said those numbers could have been much worse if residents hadn’t taken heed of the county’s request to stay home and off the roads.

“I think people took the warning seriously,” he said. “People planned, and that helped.”

Mike Sisson, a foreman with the Miami County highway department, said crews have worked around the clock to keep roads cleared, but gusty winds have made that difficult.

“We can handle the snow, but the drifting is what’s killed us,” he said. “It’s been a battle.”

Roads in parts of the county remained impassable Tuesday, but Sisson said nearly all the roads received an initial plow run by late in the day. He said most roads should be well cleared by Thursday.

Even if roads are open, Sisson said, they all remain hard-packed with snow and ice.

“They’re snow packed and slick,” he said. “But they’re passable and safe if you drive the way you’re supposed to … As soon as we get some 30-degree weather and some sun, then they’ll thaw.”

Peru Mayor Jim Walker praised the street department for getting city roads open by Monday, but said drivers should remain vigilant.

“Just use common sense,” he said. “It’s winter in Indiana. We’re hoping that everybody stays safe and warm.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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