GOSHEN — The emergency has ended but the cleanup work continues.
A disaster emergency declaration put in place Sunday by Elkhart County officials in response to the severe winter storm that swept through the Goshen area over the weekend, was allowed to expire at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
In LaGrange County the emergency was downgraded from a warning Tuesday to a watch.
The move in Elkhart County follows a downgrading of the declaration’s initial emergency warning status to emergency watch status Monday evening. The first downgrade came after weather forecasters predicted the sub-zero temperatures and strong winds that forced the county to a near standstill over the weekend, would begin easing by this morning.
According to Michael Pennington, deputy emergency management director for Elkhart County, highway department crews were still hard at work clearing county roads of snow Tuesday with the goal of getting as many people back to their normal daily routines as possible.
“We’re working really hard on it right now, and we’re just hopeful we can keep as many people off the roadways as possible so we can continue to plow the roads and get everything opened up and moving again,” Pennington said from his office Tuesday afternoon. “We’re definitely working at it, but part of the problem we’re seeing now is that the roads get more icy as the snow gets packed down with people driving over them, so it makes things more dangerous and people aren’t always aware of that.”
Pennington noted that an emergency warning status — the highest level of local travel advisory — means that travel should be restricted to emergency management workers only. As such, most county residents were unable to return to work Monday due to the road restrictions, and both Elkhart County and Goshen government offices were closed, as were local schools.