News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 5, 2014

Arctic Blast 2014: On a mission to keep delivering

TERRE HAUTE — Despite about 6 inches of snow on the ground in downtown Terre Haute by early Sunday afternoon, some food delivery drivers such as Jared Mimms tried to make it “business as usual.”

While many people stayed indoors, the 21-year-old Jimmy Johns delivery driver braved slick roads to work in the the middle of a snow storm — which forecasters predicted to bring much as much as 10 inches of snow to many areas of the Wabash Valley before plunging it down to a deep freeze today and Tuesday.

Mimms said he felt nervous driving in those extreme weather conditions.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” he told the Tribune-Star before leaving the food establishment on Wabash Avenue.

Mimms carefully operated his friend’s SUV as he traveled through snow-covered roads to deliver an order to a residence hall at Indiana State University.

“Still need  [to make] money,” said Mimms, who has been working at Jimmy John’s for a year.

Upon reaching his destination, Mimms got out of the vehicle and met the heavy snow that was still falling. The white snowflakes, which felt light as they hit the skin, also made his jacket damp.

He then walked carefully on the university sidewalk to deliver the sandwiches to the student at the door, who gave him a $5 tip.

But his story does not end there.

What follows is a story similar to the experiences of many people who were out on the roads Sunday.

Before leaving Jimmy John’s, he found out that his car, operated by a fellow delivery driver, got stuck in the snow while making a turn at Eleventh Street and Walnut Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. The friends swapped cars earlier.

After making the delivery and with permission from his bosses, Mimms went to help his friend.

Upon arrival, he cleared some snow around his tires with a scraper. Afterward, Mimms, his friend and two other men — Tribune-Star Photographer Bob Poynter and a good samaritan who lived nearby — positioned themselves in front of the car and pushed until it was unstuck.

Weather conditions such as Sunday’s significant snowfall made it hazardous for some people to do their jobs. But safety is always a priority.

He just had to “drive slow and try to stay safe,” Mimms said.

III

About an hour after Mimms got his car out of the snow, at about 1:30 p.m., Vigo County officials declared a snow emergency and restricted travel on the roadway to emergency and urgent traffic only. This was followed by the closing of Honey Creek Mall (including stores and restaurants) in Terre Haute around 2 p.m.

According to the Indiana State Police, the “snowfall has caused perilous travel conditions for west-central Indiana. All roadways are snow-covered, slick and hazardous.”

Governor Mike Pence activated 24 Highway Assistance Teams with the Indiana National Guard, consisting of 96 individuals, to rescue stranded motorists and assist local EMS in reaching people who need medical attention, according to a release. The Terre Haute unit was among the units deployed.

Indiana State Police said Interstate 70 was a “trouble area,” with multiple slide-offs and vehicle crashes. Other trouble areas  were State Road 63 in northern Vigo County and all of Vermillion County. Multiple slide-offs occurred in those roads, police said.

From 6 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., Indiana State Police said troopers responded to 26 vehicles slide-offs and five vehicle crashes, which includes three jack-knifed tractor-trailers. Police transported a number of motorists stranded along Interstate 70 to local motels.

Almost 3,000 people in Vigo County were without power as of 4 p.m. Sunday, according to Duke Energy. About 600 were without power in Clay County around the same time.

Throughout the state, the Indiana Department of Transportation had a full deployment of yellow trucks plowing and treating the interstates, U.S. highways and state routes.

“While the trucks are effective in plowing accumulating and drifting snow, drivers need to do their part to keep the roads open so the plow trucks can do their job,” a release advised. “INDOT’s trucks cannot plow through parked or stopped vehicles.”

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com.

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