The Ottumwa Courier

Blizzard of 2011

February 3, 2011

Southeast Iowa digs out

Good neighbors are cold neighbors when it comes to clearing walkways

OTTUMWA — At least one resident found it strange. Almost no one was outside in the below-freezing weather, yet many of Ottumwa’s sidewalks are clear.

“But I’m surprised by the number of people who had their sidewalks shoveled,” said Tom Rodgers, the city’s public information officer.

Between passing out snow advisories and gathering information from official sources, Rodgers was taking a walking tour of downtown. An hour after he got back to City Hall, it became clear how some of those foot paths were taken care of.

Dale Essick was outside near Fourth Street, looking cold but pushing a snowblower up and down a hilly side street. Many of the people who live along his street are elderly, he told the Courier, and can’t get out to shovel their sidewalk. That’s why he was also cleaning out a few driveways.

But it was deep. In fact, at one point, Essick had to push snow out of the way with his hand just to clear a path for the snowblower.  

When asked, he said he didn’t get paid to spend hours in the freezing weather. Neither do several other good neighbors around Ottumwa.

The “Habitat for Humanity House” recently built on Lincoln Avenue has its own volunteer living just up the street.

“I told them I’d take care of the sidewalk this winter,” said John Hunolt, who was breathing heavy after finishing his own driveway on East Court.

On his way to check on the Habitat home, he cut through a neighbor’s backyard. Within moments, he crashed through the frozen top snow and sank into the softer snow underneath.

“It’s almost 3-foot deep in places,” said Hunolt. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get my leg out.”

In many places, even a snowblower was having trouble, he said.

“The wind really packed it down. There’s places where it’s [only] 20 inches deep, but it’s packed so hard.”

Pat Kaake said he could see his neighborhood Good Samaritan out his window Wednesday afternoon.

“Bill Sowden is there bailing everybody out with his snowblower and shovel. I see him at the neighbor next door to me; he’s out there now. He deserves some credit.”

He said Sowden doesn’t charge to go around on his John Deere lawn tractor with the winter attachments. He clears sidewalks and driveways in the 700 block of Lee Avenue.

“He does everybody’s. He does that every time it snows.”

When told about helpful neighbors like Essick and Hunolt, Kaake said those people, like Sowden, deserve some credit

“We need a lot more people like that,” he said. 

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Blizzard of 2011
  • Facebook 3.jpg Southeast Iowa reactions to the storm

    We asked area residents to send in what they think they will remember about the Blizzard of 2011. Here are their comments.

    February 3, 2011 12 Photos

  • Stuck in snow Free snow; you haul

    Citizens are maintaining good cheer and their sense of humor during the blizzard cleanup.

    February 4, 2011 2 Photos

  • Good neighbors Southeast Iowa digs out

    Good neighbors helped clear Ottumwa sidewalks after Tuesday and Wednesday's blizzard dumped about 10.5 inches around town.

    February 3, 2011 1 Photo

  • Information Officer City’s snow crews focus on recovery

    Schools, some businesses and many roads remained closed Wednesday as road crews continued to dig Ottumwa and southeast Iowa out from 12-straight hours of blizzard conditions.

    February 3, 2011 1 Photo

  • ‘How are the roads?’

    One of the top winter weather questions has a mixed answer for Ottumwa.

    February 3, 2011

  • Winter storm crash Blizzard blankets heartland

    Forecasters say blizzard conditions overnight mean snow totals between 13-21 inches for the Ottumwa area by this morning, so officials recommend drivers go slow today and, if possible, avoid driving completely.

    February 2, 2011 1 Photo

  • Downtown empty Businesses struggle against storm’s wrath

    Some businesses make sure they stay open because bad weather is when their customers need them most.

    February 2, 2011 1 Photo

  • Downtown drivers.tif Southeast Iowa slammed by storm

    A huge storm blanketing almost a third of the country has southeast Iowa squarely in its sights. Story includes two reader-submitted photos.

    February 1, 2011 3 Photos

  • Busy gas station Monster winter storm on its way

    Two round of ice and snow are predicted to slam southeast Iowa and much of the Midwest this week. The combination of heavy snow and winds of 25-30 mph will have major impacts.

    February 1, 2011 1 Photo

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