Travelers Heading North Stranded By Storm
by Jeff Rusack, Reporter
February 11, 2013 5:15 PM
A storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in some places this weekend, left travelers stranded throughout the state.
Sunday night and Monday morning over 450 miles of South Dakota interstates shut down due to treacherous driving conditions.
A section of Interstate 29 from Watertown to the North Dakota border closed for more than 24 hours. And for a church group returning home to North Dakota from a conference in Nebraska, Watertown would be as far as they would get.
“I'm really glad we stopped when we did,” said Lloyd Arnegard III, a stranded student.
Twenty plus students stranded for the night. One of their pastors knew road conditions were deteriorating further north and thought about getting off the interstate before Watertown.
“When we got to Brookings we noticed everybody was getting off and we though if we have to stay here, there might not be that many hotels left,” said Lloyd Arnegard, the associate pastor of the church.
Roads further south didn't seem treacherous enough to be deemed ‘bad driving’ for this group from Mayville.
“It's just like North Dakota roads. They weren't that bad. The wind was blowing. Visibility was good,” said Arnegard.
So, northbound they went. And visibilities dropped.
“It got pretty rough for a little bit but then we took it easy until we got to Watertown and then we found a hotel,” said Wyatt Erickson, a stranded student.
Stranded a couple hundred miles from home, the group squeezed into their rooms.
“Four per room,” said Arnegard III
While taking an alternate route was discussed, staying put in Watertown seemed to be the safest decision.
“It's a great thing we didn't go any further because it would have been very dangerous,” said Arnegard.