Emergency crews brace for blizzard warning

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

The next 36 hours could be the worst weather Michiana has seen since the blizzard of 1999.

That means emergency workers throughout the area are adding staff with an expected increase in 911 calls. Mishawaka's 911 center upgraded to its “worst case scenario” plans Tuesday afternoon. It is the first time officials needed the special designation since Officer Szuba's death last January.

The center covers the city’s 45,000 residents and handles nearly 300 calls a day, but as of 2 pm, it was a waiting game for the storm system on its way.

Meat loaf and corn were on the lunch menu at Mishawaka fire station one as brass called in extra staffing for a third ambulance and command vehicle.

"In our job we’re used to getting what's unexpected, tonight may bring that," said Lt. Randy Holdeman, with the Mishawaka Fire Department.

A fire alarm call at noon had firefighters practicing run times for a busy night ahead. It also served as a reminder of the challenges crews will face. It came after cars parked on both sides of a residential road blocked their engine from passing through.

“When cars park so close together, us firefighters can’t even get through. It becomes a big issue during the wintertime,” a Mishawaka firefighter said as he guided an engine backing up.

Tuesday meant mapping things out for Mishawaka’s Street Commission.

"We've hinted to our guys on the road that it might take until Saturday or Sunday to clear," Street Commission director Mike Watson said.

Mishawaka will be running 18 plows around the clock to clear the city’s 22 acres of parking lots and 412 miles of roadway lanes.

"There sure has been record snowfall this winter, but we see it as an opportunity to show off what we can do here in Mishawaka,” Mayor Dave Wood said.

The city has cameras mounted throughout the city. They help keep Mishawaka’s busiest roads moving along.

"You could watch a snow plow and track it from Douglas and State Road 23 as it travels all the way through town,” said Gary West, Mishawaka director of engineering.

In effort to get roadways cleared as soon as possible, snow plow drivers are asking residents to move their cars into driveways or garages as soon as possible.

At the same time, most every department urges residents to utilize their non-emergency numbers if their call does not require an immediate response.

Mishawaka’s non-emergency number is: 574-258-1678.

South Bend’s non-emergency number is: 574-235-9201

St. Joseph County’s non-emergency number is: 574-235-9611.

Berrien County’s non-emergency number is: 269-983-3060.

Additionally, if you live in Mishawaka and have a police report to file that does not involve a suspect; you can submit it online in effort to save time. Once filed, detectives will look into the case and give you a call.

For more information on the program, just click on the Big Red Bar.

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