Reopening highways after last week’s winds and frigid temperatures has been hampered by both the drifting caused by the winds and by a lack of manpower. The blizzard two weeks ago was limited primarily to the Western Nebraska, allowing the NDOT, which is short several hundred snowplow drivers, to bring in crews and equipment from elsewhere in the state. Last week’s storm was statewide, preventing any shifting of crews. NDOT maintenance supervisor Dennis Connot of Valentine stated that his area was also dealing with a couple of sick drivers on Friday. Hwy 97 south of Valentine offered a good example of what road crews were facing. Connot said an 8-to-10-foot tall drift had redrifted across the highway twice after being cleared. There were also multiple reports of plows getting stuck across the region. Snowmobiles played a key role in two rescues last week, one on Friday involving getting antibiotics to a young girl suffering from scarlet fever and stranded on a ranch north of Cody. The husband of a Valentine doctor got the medicine to Cody where two
brothers, 15-year old Trapper Schied and 12-year Chase Schied rode a snowmobile through 30-below wind chills 12 miles north to the ranch and 6-year old Zoey Johnson. Thursday evening, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Search and Rescued used snowmobiles to rescue two motorists stranded on a Dawes County road near the South Dakota border after attempts to reach them failed using tracked vehicles and plows. There have been numerous other accounts of neighbors helping neighbors or helping people they dont even know dig out from the storm or help rescue them from being stranded.