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A winter wallop

Community struggles with blowing snow, sub-zero wind chills, and icy roads

One of few pedestrians seen around downtown Lake Orion Monday braves the icy intersection at Flint and Broadway. Photo by Laura Colvin Laura Colvin. (click for larger version)
December 15, 2010 - Two snow days, well over 100 cars in the ditch and ice rinks instead of roads.

That was the aftermath of a fierce winter storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow, according to local reports, on Lake Orion and the surrounding area, Dec. 12 and 13.

Dave Nelder, owner of Buckhorn Towing, along with his wife, Brenda, says he finally got some sleep Tuesday after what his wife called a "nightmare" of a weekend for tow truck drivers.

Nelder was just helping out his fleet of six trucks and said he started working Sunday at 11 a.m., took a quick nap Monday around 4 a.m. and headed back out until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Brenda estimated Buckhorn was called to winch over 120 stuck vehicles from the snow between Sunday and Monday.

"It was pretty bad, it was a nightmare. You feel sorry for people because you can't get to them right away," she said, noting the Buckhorn crew gave first priority to cars with people trapped inside.

Even many who chose to stay put suffered when a power outage left residents in cold, dark homes, some for more than 24 hours.

The Lake Orion Police Department reported fewer accidents than usually occur in poor road conditions.

"I would call that an anomaly. That's rare," said Chief Jerry Narsh.

The Orion Township Oakland County Sheriff's Office substation got upwards of 35 calls from motorists in distress.

"The accident rate was better than usual until this weekend," said Lt. Bruce Naile, substation commander. "Anytime you have weather like this it's bound to increase the crash rate."

Nelder said the number of stuck vehicles was because of the unusually icy road conditions brought quick but heavy snow fall.

"It came down so fast and got packed down by the cars, it was a skating rink," he said. "There's no magical way to get rid of it."

Nelder's advice to drivers? Slow down.

It's obviously enough, he said, but it's especially important when emergency vehicles, like police cars and tow trucks, are around. Men and women helping stuck motorists out of the snow are virtually unprotected should another car come skidding in, out of control.

"That's the scariest part," Nelder said.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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