Remembering the Blizzard of 1978

7:10 PM, Jan 25, 2008   |    comments
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30 years ago, the blizzard of 1978 hit Michigan. By the time the storm passed on January 26th, streets, cars, even homes were buried in the snow. About 20 people died as a direct or in-direct result of the storm. The Grand Rapids area received a whopping 19 inches of snow. The Lakeshore received up to 30 inches. Cathy Schaefer of Comstock Park remembers it well. "That was the worst. That was the worst, where they called for help on the expressways." Cathy was watching the news that day. She remembers the channel 13 weatherman relaying a message from emergency workers. "He broke in and said, if you guys got snowmobiles, get out on the highway and rescue some people that might be stranded." Cathy and her husband answered the call. They jumped on their snowmobiles and headed down the highway. That's where they were flagged down by a Kent County Sheriff's Deputy. "And he says, oh, you guys gotta help me out. I got a call from someone who fell into the Grand River and I need you to follow me." They let the officer use one of their snowmobiles and he was able to assist in the rescue. He would have never gotten there in his car. The roads were impassable. "For me, since I've been here, that was the worst time", says Doug Veneburg, a Supervisor with the Ottawa County Road Commission. Back in 1978, Veneburg drove a snow plow. "There were cars stranded, sometimes you could see them, sometimes not. You would actually hit some of them because they were buried under the snow." The road crews did the best they could. The main roads were first, the neighborhoods had to wait. 30-year old Alex Poehlman was born January 25, 1978 in East Grand Rapids. He has pictures of the family van buried in snow. Alex says his dad couldn't get to the hospital, so he and his mom stayed there for three days. "She told me how the doctors that were there, slept there. Some cross country skied to get there." Those who experienced the blizzard of 78' say it was a storm they will never forget. Cathy Schaefer says it was treacherous, but it was an amazing sight to see. "That's good ole mother nature for ya. You have to admire her beauty."

Sarah Sell

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