SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Hundreds of travelers from all over the country are stranded in communities all along I-90 in South Dakota.
In Wall, city officials, volunteers and homeowners are coming together to find every stranded traveler a safe and warm place to wait out the winter weather.
“The visibility is absolutely zero and it’s just cold and windy,” Wall homeowner Wayne Schull said.
Travelers began pulling into Wall shortly after lunch Wednesday afternoon.
“We don’t have many hotels open this time of year, so they filled up fast,” City Finance Officer Carolynn Anderson said.
Vehicles were still pulling off the interstate in droves, so city officials decided to open the community center.
“At first just letting people come in to be warm and out of their vehicles, then we realized it was going to have to be an overnight situation,” Anderson said.
Thankfully the wrestling team uses the community center to practice, and after a similar storm in 2008, the city purchased an emergency trailer with cots and blankets for exactly this situation.
“When we ran out of cots, we rolled the mats out and we had probably at least 150 people in our facility,” Anderson said.
“Some friends of ours in Rapid City contacted us and said some of their relations were stuck in Wall and there was no place to stay,” Schull said.
Homeowners like Wayne Schull also started opening their homes to anyone in need.
“I’m guessing there are eight adults and sounded like maybe two or three children and four dogs,” Schull said.
This will be their second night hosting a house full of strangers who are all trying to make it home for Christmas.
“They’re lined up on the street out to my house, lined up on the exit ramps on the interstates just hoping,” Schull said.
This morning, state officials escorted a caravan of about two dozen vehicles from Wall to Rapid City.
“It’s a slow go, that first group it took them three hours to get up there, it’s maybe 10 miles an hour,” Anderson said.
It’s why many families are staying put for another unique night of Christmas vacation 2022.
“They’ll definitely have memories to talk about in later years to come, but the community has really pulled together and done great,” Anderson said.”Even in the spirit of Christmas, this is something we try to do anytime anybody has hardship, in the hopes that down the road if one of our children ends up in the same situation people reach a hand out to give them a hand up also,” Schull said.
And it’s not just Wall, but many small communities along I-90 are also working to help stranded travelers.