Southern Minnesotans continue to cope with road closures, icy roads and another night in shelter

February 25, 2019 10:14 PM

There are signs of progress in southern Minnesota after the potent blizzard blanketed Steele County.

In Owatonna, the shelter at the Lutheran Church was closed down as emergency management leaders relocated the remaining people stranded by the storm under one roof at the National Guard Armory. On Monday night, about half of the original 230 people remained for a second night, which included Luke McDonell. 

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"For the situation and the circumstances, they have been easy and accommodating," he said.

McDonell had a friend with him. They both go to college in Iowa and pulled off the road by law enforcement when driving conditions on Interstate 35 South had become too dangerous.

RELATED: Over 600 rescued in southern Minnesota as blizzard conditions linger

"I am glad to be somewhere safe and warm, considering the circumstances I feel lucky to not be in a snowbank," said Mae Murphy.

They are hoping the highway will be re-opened Tuesday, and they aren't alone.

"It's really frustrating. People need to get their product and I just can't get it to them," said Demetrius Jarrett. 

He's one of the dozens of semi truck drivers who had to park where ever they could along a roadside or in a shopping center until they were given the all-clear to hit the highway again.

RELATED: Resorts aiding those stranded in drifting snow on Mille Lacs

Since the blizzard began over the weekend, state agencies reported some 600 people across Minnesota have been rescued from their stranded vehicles. A third of them were in especially hard-hit Steele County.

Janice McReynolds had to work on Monday and knew it would be a slow going. She almost made it to the office when she suddenly spun into a snowbank on West Bridge Street and 24th Avenue Northwest in Owatonna. A stranger in a truck with a tow helped her out.

"Thank you, thank you, you'll help somebody else someday," she said to the stranger as he helped her.

Steele County officials said they are now focused on getting people reunited with their cars. In some cases, tow trucks have brought vehicles to the shelter at the armory and matched them with the owners. The goal is to get cars off the streets and make room for machines to come through and clear them and that could take several days. 

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Beth McDonough

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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