Updated 02/02/11 – 5:27 p.m.
HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) – Residents in northwest Indiana were busy all day Wednesday, trying to dig out from the massive snowfall that came down during a blizzard that lasted almost an entire day.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song was in northwest Indiana all day and felt the wind blasting across her face as she trudged through the heavy-packed snow.
Drifts of at least 3 1/2 to 4 feet had piled up in many areas.
At noon, the snowflakes were getting bigger, and daylight showcased the damage. One car in Hammond was buried under at least a foot of snow. The lake effect snow was falling in full force at midday.
A man in the area woke up to a polar scene outside his garage. When he took the snow blower to the drift, it produced an effect not unlike a famous geyser in Yellowstone Park.
“There was about a 3 or 4 foot drift in front of my garage door, and I fired up the snow blower, and it was Old Faithful, and it’s doing a pretty good job this morning,” he said.
In Gary, Mayor Rudy Clay said he couldn’t get out of his garage because of the snow. But he said Gary was weathering the blizzard because most people did as they were asked and stayed home.
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He says emergency services are prepared.
“Some of the firefighters were supposed to get off this morning, but we told them no, because we had some call-ins, so we told the firefighters to stay in the station,” Clay said.
Clay said there weren’t that many stranded cars overnight because they stayed home.
Indiana State Police reported 50 accidents overnight, 18 involving property damage, and three involving minor injuries.
It wasn’t not just on the side streets of Hammond where drivers were having a hard time getting around, either.
Interstates 65 and 80-94 were open as of just before 8 a.m. But state police warned the interstates were slick and covered with snow, particularly on bridges and overpasses.
Two semi trailer trucks got stuck on an entrance ramp to I-80/94 on Wednesday.
“By the time I got to the top of ramp, there was too much snow on there and I got stuck and slid back down the ramp,” trucker Tommy Colalillo said.
He wasn’t the only one whose patience was tested.
Jim Hoelzel said the snow looked light and fluffy at first, but “my back is telling me it’s not that light or fluffy right now.”
Hoelzel’s friend, Johnny Igarto, saved him from having to shovel all the snow from his driveway by bringing over a snowblower.
“It’s hard. It ain’t easy,” Igarto said. “I think it might be my fifth yard right now.”
But the waist-high snow brought lots of laughter for William He and Sherry Shen.
“I’m from south part of China. My winter there is pretty warm, so never like this. So I’m pretty excited,” William He said.
They said that, on this first day of the Chinese New Year, heavy snow means luck and blessings, so they weren’t too concerned that the shovel was buried deep in the snow.