Dodge County coping with sub-zero weather
As winter temps sunk Wednesday to bone-chilling levels, many local residents stayed home and out of danger, some ventured out for entertainment and food, and others didn’t see what the big deal was.
Ron Schultz recalled cold winter days in the 1950s and 1960s during a stop at the Daily Citizen office.
“We never knew the word wind chill in those days,” said Schultz, who is from the Columbus/Waterloo area.
In those days, Schultz said that they never canceled school.
“No one was concerned about freezing fingers. We dressed for it,” he said.
Equipment problems at farms back then meant something special to children, Schultz said.
“It would be a good day,” Schultz said. “We wouldn’t have to go to school because we’d be needed to fix things on the farm.”
People would wear layers, Schultz noted, which would help with keeping the cold at bay. There were also lots of outside jobs that needed to be done on the farm so people would keep busy to keep warm as well.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the city of Beaver Dam had not had any water main breaks this week, though there was a main break last week.
“Thankfully, knock on wood, we have had no issues,” utilities director Rob Minnema said.
Minnema said he has heard from local plumbers responding to calls for pipes, but Minnema said snow cover helped stop frost from penetrating into infrastructure.
While many businesses closed, Family Video was not among them.
Assistant manager Sarah Donovan said both the Beaver Dam and Waupun Family Video stores have been busy with people picking up rental movies and games. Public libraries, which may sometimes be an alternative, have been closed.
“We were pretty dead this morning,” Sarah said Wednesday. “But we got busier in the afternoon.”
The most popular rentals were “Hunter Killer” and “First Man” for adults and “Goosebumps 2” for children.
In addition, she said many people planned ahead and rented movies Tuesday.
Sarah’s husband, Kristian Donovan, is an assistant manager at the neighboring Marco’s Pizza. Donovan said that they had been busy all day as well.
“Everyone has been very grateful and there has been a lot of generous tipping,” he said. “They have also been very understanding with the wait times with the weather.”
Dodge County Highway Commissioner Brian Field said his department is faced with multiple challenges.
“We are struggling with the extreme temperatures and blowing, drifting snow here in Dodge County,” he said via email Wednesday afternoon. “We had crews out all night on Class 1 State highways working in teams of two drivers, two trucks to ensure no one was out alone should there be equipment failures.”
There were some equipment failures due to the cold, but he said everyone was safe.
“Additional crews were out early this morning in teams of two to address drifting snow on the balance of the state and county highways,” Field said. “Our highways are in fair winter condition with scattered slippery spots. Additional drifting may occur this evening.”
He repeated the warnings issued by other county departments, asking drivers to refrain from traveling under these conditions unless absolutely necessary.
“It is important to be alert and to realize that though a section of pavement may appear to be dry and safe there may be a drift or an icy area around the next curve or over the next hill,” Field said. “These hazards will cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles if they are driving too fast for these conditions. If residents choose to travel I recommend they allow extra time, drive at a safe speed and be sure to have warm gear and blankets in the vehicle.
“Recovering stranded motorists under these conditions is a slow and difficult challenge. Saying home is the safest option.”
Dodge County Emergency Management Director Amy Nehls concurred.
“Nothing really has changed for last week’s tips,” Nehls said in an email. “The National Weather Service’s forecast has been on target all along. People seem to be heeding the warnings and staying inside, which is helping to diminish traffic, thus helping our first responders (law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical services) see a lower amount of calls for accidents and run offs.
“Again the forecast is a wind chill warning through Thursday noon. If people have to travel they should have an emergency kit and wear appropriate layers of clothing. However, if possible, people should delay travel until the warning subsides.”