Law enforcement and the Minnesota National Guard have been working overtime as they continue to rescue stranded motorists whose vehicles spun off the roads or slammed into massive drifts during the weekend blizzard.
Minnesota Homeland Security & Emergency Management reports that more than 600 motorists have been rescued in southern Minnesota. Steele County had more than 200 of the 600 rescues, which are broken down by county below.
- Steele County: 200+
- Freeborne County: 82 (plus 7 people stranded on trains)
- Mower County: 50+
- Winona County: 50+
- Le Sueur County: 46
- Fillmore County: 38
- Renville County: 33
- Rice County: 30
- Chippewa County: 21
- Swift County: 20
- Stevens County: 12
- Lyon County: 10
- Watonwan County: 10
- Cottonwood County: 8
- Brown County: 5
The report notes that 150 vehicles went off the roads in Blue Earth County, but the number of rescues there weren't provided.
Travel conditions are slowly but surely improving, but many roads remain closed, primarily in southeast Minnesota where the heaviest snow fell during the powerful winter storm.
"Plows crews are out making progress but please understand that it will take some time for roads to become passable again," Minnesota Homeland Security & Emergency Management said in a noon update on Facebook. "Not only will the snow need to be cleared, but many vehicles will have to be towed before roads will be safe to drive."
Trains, military "tank" also stuck
The department said hundreds of people remain sheltered and that a small unit support vehicle from the Minnesota National Guard was en route to rescue railroad workers who were stranded on two trains in Freeborn County.
As efficient as the military vehicles are, even they can become stranded, as one did near Wabasha.
"There is currently a tank, yes a literal military tank that got stuck on our roads last night when the National Guard was trying to help stranded motorists. If a tank cannot make it you probably should not try," Wabasha Police Department said in a Facebook post around 6 a.m. Monday.
The number of people sheltered is staggering:
- Steele County National Guard Armory — 187 people sheltered.
- Steele County Trinity Lutheran Church — 53 people sheltered.
- Ellendale shelter — 30 people sheltered.
- Blooming Prairie shelter — 15 people sheltered.
- Freeborn County National Guard Armory — 46 people sheltered.