Freeborn County shelters 70 people, 7 pets from winter storm

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(ABC 6 News) – A dangerous winter storm brought whiteout conditions across Southeast Minnesota last week, postponing holiday travel for many. Some travelers instead found themselves in emergency shelters with nowhere else to go after being rescued.

70 people, five dogs and two cats stayed at the Freeborn County Emergency Shelter hosted in the National Guard Armory, according to Freeborn County Emergency Management.

Blizzard conditions from blowing snow led to closures along major highways like I-90 and I-35. Because travel was cut short for many, emergency management says the area hotels were filling up fast.

Friday afternoon the county’s emergency shelter opened up. It was a joint effort by emergency management, the sheriff’s office, county public health, and the Minnesota National Guard. During the storm, first responders went on 23 rescue missions, and called in the national guard for 13, according to Freeborn County Emergency Management Director Rich Hall.

“The people were so appreciative that they had a place to come, a cot to lay on, spend the night and be in the warmth,” Hall said.

Hall also says he is not aware of any people with injuries related to cold coming into the shelter. Much of the work was done by volunteers, and the Red Cross and Walmart donated food to the shelter.

“[We have to] make sure that we move forward through the week with cleaning up the rest of our equipment and gear, so that we’re ready for the next time,” Hall added.

Hall says that the shelter saw travelers from all over with people coming in from Florida, Illinois and Canada.