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Indianapolis mayor wants another day of closures

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The mayor of Indianapolis said he will be lifting the city's ban on non-emergency travel at noon Monday although he wants schools and businesses to remain closed another day until the worst of the severe cold passes.

Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday morning that people are being put into a dangerous situation if they are told by their employers that they must show up at work. He said while main streets are largely cleared from Sunday's heavy snowfall, the wind chills near 40 below zero pose a deadly threat.

Ballard enacted a "red" travel emergency Sunday that made it illegal for residents to travel city streets except for emergency purposes. That level will fall to "orange" at noon Monday, which calls for essential travel only.

Indianapolis Power and Light Co. reported about 30,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in the city. Utility officials say it could be Thursday before many of the outages are repaired.

Ballard said emergency crews have taken about 400 people who've lost power to shelters.

Indiana authorities had a simple message Monday for anyone considering braving the state's icy roads, biting winds and subzero temperatures: Stay home.

Many of the state's schools, businesses and municipal offices remained closed with much of the state blanketed in about a foot of snow that fell Sunday and with wind chills through Tuesday that could reach a deadly 45 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service.

"I know the roads look clear, the sun's out and it all looks nice," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday. "But it's still minus 40 in wind chill — deadly temperatures. So we want to be very, very careful."

Emergency officials warned people to stay off the roads, many of which were rendered impassable because of the snow and wind. At least one person has died from a crash on snow-covered roads.

Highway officials have closed two major highways in northwestern Indiana — Interstate 65 between Lafayette and Merrillville and I-80/94 from the Illinois state line to Michigan City — along with many state and local roads.

Indiana Department of Homeland spokesman John Erickson said National Guard crews were contributing highway and roadside assistance and helping emergency medical services reach patients.

Most counties in the northern two-thirds of the state issued warnings asking everyone except emergency workers to avoid travel.

Erickson said even some emergency vehicles were having trouble in the snow.

"If you have to be out today, use common sense," he said.

Temperatures reached 14 below zero in Indianapolis with a wind chill of minus-39 Monday morning. It reached 12 below zero in Fort Wayne and Terre Haute — and even 2 below zero in Evansville in far southern Indiana.

Indiana's major electricity providers reported more than 40,000 power outages around the state after Sunday's snowstorm, which packed 35-mph wind gusts and caused many tree limbs to fall on power lines.

Indianapolis had the most outages, with power still out for nearly 27,000 homes and businesses as of Monday morning. A couple thousand outages each were reported in the Terre Haute area and central Indiana's Tipton County.

Ann Gregson, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross' Indianapolis region, said that more than 100 people — and likely considerable more — had checked in to one of the state's 14 Red Cross shelters.

She said a shelter in Lafayette received 60 people who began arriving in the early morning hours of Monday after being driven from their homes by power outages.

Much of the power was out Monday morning in the small Tipton County community of Sharpsville, about 30 miles north of Indianapolis. Tipton County emergency management director Chuck Bell told WTHR-TV that most of the town's residents decided to stay home but that some were helped to shelters.

Indianapolis' highways and major streets were largely empty of traffic Monday morning after Ballard issued the city's first red level travel warning since a blizzard paralyzed the city in January 1978.

State police said 41-year-old Christopher Hutchings of Richmond died Sunday in a crash at U.S. 40 and Indiana 3 in eastern Indiana's Henry County. His car was traveling too fast on the snow-covered road and slid into the path of a pickup truck, police said.

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  • Yep, really,
    Don't need to be tough and don't need to call someone on your cell phone if you get into trouble, IF, you are prepared. For those that are not capable of being prepared, they should decide for themselves to stay home. For those of us that are capable of being prepared, we should be able to decide for ourselves to go out in it. It is as simple as that. I could see if it were -30 with ice or something, but -10 never kept me inside in other cities I've lived.
    • have you been on the roads?
      465, 65, 70. i'm guessing you haven't had to drive on any one of these roads since the weekend?
    • To the tuff guys
      Seems the right thing to do shutting the city down. The last time it was done was 1978, so don't act line it's an all too often occurrence. You will be the first ones on the cell phone looking for someone to bail your butts out when you get in trouble. Guess what that puts others at risk as well, not to mention slowing down clean-up. This was a combination of snow and cold, respect the weather.
    • red alert lol
      Many were prepared, the mayor was not. Just an excuse for the politicians to make themselves seem competent when they failed in execution. No red alert tickets were given, three policemen laughed at that one today. Praise the plow crews for what little they were given.
    • Cut down the trees
      This is definitely an issue, but so are the raised power lines. Seriously, in this day and age the lines need to be buried.
    • I would rather have my employees safe
      We could see the storm was going to be a problem on Friday, and made arrangements to have people work from home. We will miss a few days, and make it up later with a team that knows I care about them
    • Power Outages
      The Indianapolis media needs to quit giving sympathetic coverage to homeowners who object to having trees trimmed by the power companies to prevent power outages due to trees and limbs being too close to power lines.
      • Unnecessary
        C'mon, Greg, stop acting like a king. If business want to reopen then let them. The danger is over, the roads look fine to me and my car has a heater in it. It's just cold outside. We're sick of sitting around in the house and staring at each other. I have things to get done.
        • Weather
          Wanted to say a big Thank you for a job well done during this terrible weather. Getting folks without power to shelters was awesome. Way to think ahead. Thanks again!!!!
        • Irresponsible Thinking
          @Mark Would you also have us act as irresponsibly in demanding that all of our "weak-minded" school superintendents keep their students and bus drivers and school staffs at risk?
        • Did Ballard unplug the heat?
          I think you are overreacting. Part of the problem is the severe cold and mixed with the snow fall. There is nothing anyone can do about the windchill. A lot companies and employees are able to work from home, I don't think this event is going to drive business away from Indianapolis.
        • Not all of us are retail people
          I own a mechanic business. I have several cars and trucks in my shop right now waiting to be fixed. I will likely have more with this storm as I already have two that were towed there last night and dropped off. None of my employees were allowed to work today, even though they all wanted to, so they lost a day of pay and we are further behind getting people's vehicles back to them so they can get back on the road. They can't come in at 12:30/1pm and get efficient work done and still get home safely when we are shut down and the mayor is asking for another day. This is crazy. Susan/Sandy, if you don't want to work, then don't, but don't lump everyone together by saying the city should tell everyone to stay closed. It is irresponsible to shut the entire city down like this, let us decide for ourselves.
        • Ballard blaming business for his failures
          11" of snow. We've had much worse before. 14 below zero. Cold, but no record. Not even close. Ballard's job is to keep this city open. His closing it down for TWO days is a glaring admission of failure. Now he's blaming businesses for wanting to condut business. Many of these employees missing workd are salaried and thus still being paid. Paid to sit at home. Business is essentially being taxed twice. Once directly, via the many taxes, and again to pay for idled employees. Anyone remember getting a tax cut to compensate businesses and employees for the government savings for not being prepared/competent? It's just another example of Indy driving business to friendlier and better managed cities and towns. Some just up the road 20 minutes or so.
          • Retail math
            Shopping centers recieve a percentage of profits from the businesses that lease from them so they levy fines on stores if they don't open. Sadly, stores often have to choose between this option (closing and being fined or opening and endangering staff) during weather like this.
          • Not profits Susan
            It is not about driving profits as a lot of businesses lose money when they are open during these conditions. It is simply about continuing your business to be there to serve your clients that rely on you to fix things and help them. It is not that cold, it is just simply that you are not accustomed to it.
          • PTO
            It appears that many businesses are charging PTO time or docking pay for employees during these restrictions. This seems a bit unreasonable as it encourages people to try to get out so they will either preserve PTO that has been planned for other days or be paid!
          • One more day
            I think lifting the red travel designation for Tuesday is a mistake. The weather is supposed to be just as bad as Monday. So many companies will demand that their employees try and get in tomorrow and so people will break their necks in below zero temperatures and try and get there. It's irresponsible. The red designation should remain until Wednesday because most large businesses won't put the safety of their people first just profits.
          • Listen
            It seems irresponsible not to close and stay off the roads. Business need to put the welfare of their employees ahead of profits for once. And people who think they are invincible need to stay home too!

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