PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Jeff Metzinger put his love of snowmobiles to work on Friday in Pierre.
After 14 inches of snow fell from Tuesday to Friday and high wind speeds created large snow drifts in town, Metzinger decided to help provide rides for emergency service workers in Pierre.
“We’ve probably had up to 15 snowmobiles here,” Metzinger told KELOLAND News Friday. “We’ve hauled nurses to work at the ER, we’ve hauled nurses and cook staff to the nursing homes. We’ve hauled snowplow drivers and we took a couple of 911 dispatchers to their place of work and home because they’ve been staying overnight in the dorm rooms.”
Metzinger put out a call of action for other people who owned snowmobiles to gather at the Branding Iron Bistro, which he co-owns with his wife. He said a lack of snow in the past few years led to the Capital Snow Cruisers snowmobile club disbanding but there were still many people who had snowmobiles in Pierre.
Metzinger said he works in law enforcement and knows the Pierre Chief of Police and asked about using snowmobiles to give rides while there was a no-travel advisory in town.
“He said do what you need to do,” Metzinger said. “ We’ve been riding since probably like 10:30 a.m. around town. The main emergency snow routes are getting pretty well plowed out now but the side streets have two feet of snow in them.”
Metzinger said 8th Street in Pierre has snow drifts of about six feet deep and there are many stuck vehicles making roads tough to navigate.
“The city’s done a pretty good job of keeping the emergency routes open, but the side streets, where people live, can’t get their vehicles out. Those are the kind of people we’ve been hauling.”
By 4 p.m. Friday, Metzinger said conditions were improving in Pierre and he believed the snowmobiles would stop giving rides by dark. One group of two snowmobiles was on a baby formula delivery run and Metzinger said more rides could be called upon if an emergency came up.
He said when the snowmobile club was still active, there was an emergency hauling plan similar to what the group was providing on Friday.
“We were talking today, the 1996-97 blizzard was bad here,” Metzinger said. “It’s probably been that long since we’ve seen this amount of snow in the Capital City. We helped some people today. It’s good to help.”