Emergency Management assessing snow emergency

COLUMBIA CITY - Whitley County's Emergency Management/Department of Homeland Security is having committee meetings to assess whether or not to extend the Level 1 snow emergency past 6 p.m. today.The decision will be made at 4 p.m., according to agency director Cathy Broxon-Ball."Our committee will review the situation at 4 p.m. today to see if we need to extend it past 6 p.m.," she said.Broxon-Ball said motorists should continue to use common sense regarding road travel."They're (county highway road crews) clearing the roads as fast as they can move the snow out of the way," she said."People just need to be patient and stay off the roads."The more they stay off the roads, the less they'll get stuck and the more room the snow plows have to do their job."Broxon-Ball said while crews are clearing main roads, drifting is still pretty bad "out in the county." She said wind levels are causing more snow accumulation on the smaller thoroughfares.Whitley County Sheriff Mark Hodges said the county had thusfar been fortunate when it comes to loss of life or injury, but said the inclement weather had created a number of situations."Accidents have been at a minimum," said Hodges. "But we've seen a lot of stranded vehicles since 9 p.m. last night. There were several dozen stuck in snow drifts and this morning we found a lot of abandoned vehicles."Hodges said a yet unknown number of motorists had to be rescued from stuck vehicles, including three people in the southern part of the county who were rescued from a vehicle without heat."Today, we've been rescuing vehicles, towing vehicles and moving them so the snow plows can continue working," the sheriff said.The bad weather didn't spare emergency personnel, with a four-wheel-drive police vehicle getting stuck last night for two hours."We were attempting to take an employee home," Hodges said.Hodges said he couldn't predict how soon roads would be safe for driving but reiterated the cautions of Broxon-Ball."The last I knew, it's (emergency declaration) going to depend on the county highway department and how successful they are," he said.Weather radar at 1 p.m. showed another system in the Chicago area heading east.