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Working With A -40 Degree Wind Chill

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The National Weather Service continues to issue wind chill warnings and advisories for much of the area, Thursday. Readings were as low at 50 below and more than a hundred schools called off classes today. But, just because school wasn't in session doesn't mean people weren't working hard inside, and outside.

The peak wind chill in Watertown Thursday was negative 43. A short stint outside meant a brain freeze, running nose, and watery eyes.

But, for the employees at the County Fair grocery store, it's just another day at work.

Elwood Ramsey, a courtesy worker at the Watertown store looks out for more than just himself when temps dip dangerously low.

“I'm the one that will help anybody. If you've got one or two bags and you don't want to take them, I'll take them out for you. It doesn't matter to me,” said Elwood Ramsey.

The carts the workers use can get down to -3 degrees. The actual air temperature was around -10 degrees and with the wind it felt as cold as -40.

Elwood Ramsey is one of four courtesy workers braving the frigid air, Thursday morning, assisting customers in a rotation.  

“We take turns. So, no one has to be the only one going in and out. It's too cold,” said Leeann Currey.  

For Elwood, no matter the temperature, the pace of helping someone is based on the customer.

“There are a lot of older folks here and you can't rush them. And you just contend with their speed,” said 71 year old Ramsey.

But, with the mercury so low, just making it back to the warmth of the store can be a minor victory.  

“Usually, I'm a Chatty Cathy. So, when it's nice out, I like to carry on a nice long conversation with my customers. But, when wind chills are 40 below. It's, ‘thank you, have a nice day and we'll see you tomorrow,’” said Currey.  

With Jack Frost’s chokehold firmly in place, South Dakotans do the only thing they can.    

“I've done this for 20 years and you just go with the flow,” said Currey.

Knowing that before too long summer's rays will be beating down, some 110 degrees hotter.

“Next summer, I'll say I wish I was working somewhere a little bit cooler,” said Ramsey.
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