Cold temps affects many area businesses
Wed, 02/06/2019 - 1:37pm admin
By Marcie Klomp ~ News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Northeast Iowa - Minus 60 wind chills. Those are words nobody wants to hear. Unfortunately, the midwest was in the limelight because of the meaning of those words.
The regular low temperature hit 30 below zero with wind chills going upwards of 53 below zero on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Thursday was even colder. with thermometers reading 40 below with wind chills hitting 60 below.
That cold weather made for some crazy days in the area as many businesses either completely closed or closed early for the safety of their employees. Most restaurants in Cresco closed for a day or closed early. In addition, there was no late clinic (6 p.m.) for Cresco Medical Clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday. It closed at 5 p.m. On Wednesday, Cresco Bank & Trust closed at 3 p.m.
Howard-Winneshiek and many other school districts were closed four days last week. Many closed on Monday due to a snow storm with high winds hitting the area. Tuesday saw blowing snow and the anticipation of cold weather, which meant another day of closures. Pretty much most of Iowa, Minnesota and western Wisconsin saw school closings on Wednesday and Thursday.
Surprisingly, the United States Post Office, whose unofficial motto is “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” did not send out its carriers on Wednesday in parts of eight states, including northeast Iowa. Because of that, many customers received their Times Plain Dealer a day late, and for those out of the area, it might have been two or more days late.
Other businesses also did not send their drivers out to deliver, including UPS and others.
Steve Johnson of Johnson Comfort Systems at Lime Springs said no deliveries was the biggest problem through the cold weather. “It’s frustrating when you know what was wrong, but you’re not able to get parts. We did share parts with other companies.”
He also said he had more calls Monday through Thursday than any other time period since they started! “We dealt with it. We had a couple furnaces we couldn’t fix, but we got to them Friday.”
Being busy meant long days. Johnson noted he worked 6 a.m.-11 p.m. one day.
Mark Kubik of Kubik Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning of Cresco agreed the days were long. He worked 14 hours one day and close to 17 hours the other. “It was one call after the other,” he said.
Many of his calls dealt with dirty filters and frost crystals getting sucked into the combustion pipe, plugging it. “You just take the front panel off and get the air from the basement instead of outdoors,” he explained.
He suggested residents should make sure their vents are clear and change filters. “Those are preventative maintenance measures,” he said.
Both Kubik and Johnson said the general public gets more upset about their air conditioners not working more than their furnaces!
Area towing and service trucks were also very busy keeping the world going from place to place.
Casey Knight of Cresco Towing and Recovery was busy with 60 calls in a 3-4 day period. Thirty-five of those were jump starts, with 7-8 vehicles needing to be pulled out of ditches.
“I ran 50 hours myself in a few days with some part-time help. I hope I never see that kind of cold again,” he said. Although it was bad, he said it wasn’t as bad as the blizzard of January 2014.
On the two coldest days, Wednesday and Thursday, Knight stayed close to Cresco. It was so cold, he kept his service vehicle running 48 hours straight to make sure he would be ready if called out.
Russ Theis, who owns Russ’ Repair, Towing and Recovery was all over the area, from north of Rochester to Waverly, mostly getting the semis running that had gelled up or had frozen parts.
It was busy for Theis, who stated, “It was the first time in 27 years we’ve run three service trucks 24 hours a day solid for almost 96 hours! Plus kept both shops accessible for those who needed parts.” He kept three service trucks and one runner busy that entire time.
“It was crazy! We ran around the clock. We usually try to have two people per vehicle for safety,” he said. The calls kept coming. His usual corridor runs along Highway 63 from Rochester to Waterloo and on Highway 9 for quite a ways.
Although most of Theis’ business came from truckers, he also towed a few light duty vehicles. Some of the runs included taking drivers to a motel to wait out the cold.
Howard County Sheriff Mike Miner’s department also had a busy week. “From Monday through Thursday, we had 170 weather-related calls! There were four minor accidents, five semis gelled up, one deputy went in the ditch trying to get to someone needing help and quite a few cars were in the ditch or stuck in a snowdrift. But nobody got hurt!” he was happy to report.
All that cold weather and two days later, it was 40 degrees to the good! Over the weekend, snow was melting like crazy, making creeks swell and ditches fill with water. You know what they say . . . if you don’t like the weather in Iowa, wait a few hours [or a day], and it’ll change!