Elkhart County residents questioning lack of state of emergency
ELKHART COUNTY, Ind.-- It’s blizzard like conditions that Elkhart County commissioners say ultimately call for a state of emergency.
Many are upset that the entire county isn’t shutdown and some think it’s just another day in the Midwest.
In Elkhart County, declaring a state of emergency is ultimately up to commissioners, but they team up with the Sheriffs Office, Highway Department and the county’s Emergency Manager to determine if that call should be made.
“I just got off the phone with the other commissioners and our county highway folks and it sounds like based on the forecast, we should be in good shape road wise Wednesday morning," said county commissioner, Mike Yoder.
Right now, Elkhart County is under a travel advisory. If conditions worsen, that’s bumped up to a watch, then state of emergency.
At this point, though, if employers think it’s unsafe for workers to come in, they’re encouraged to make their own call.
“Instead we’re relying on individual businesses to make their own determination on how many employees to have drive in and how they handle those employee safety concerns," said Yoder.
One Elkhart man say’s that shouldn’t be an option.
“I mean, it’s going to be so cold you’re not going to step outside without getting frostbitten. I was just shoveling snow outside for ten minutes and my fingers were pretty much frost bitten," said Larry King.
Yoder also says the effects of losing one day of business for the economy results in the loss of millions of dollars, especially living in the RV capital of the world.
He say’s that’s not the reason a state of emergency hasn’t been declared yet.
“Cold weather. It’s a dangerous situation everybody needs to be thinking and be safe about this but it doesn’t rise to the level of just shutting down everybody. The grocery stores, the fuel stations, you can not go anywhere. I think people think that a state emergency they don’t have to go to work and they could go to the store, but that’s not the case. If it’s a state of emergency, you’re at home and that’s where you stay," said Yoder.
One resident believes just being smart and safe is enough to keep the county running.
“We live in the northern states, we have hats and gloves and scarves. I think people are smart enough to make their own decision," said Bryana Bryan.
“Everything will be fine. 9-1-1 is always there. We’ll have highway trucks out, tow trucks out, the Sheriff will be out. So help will be there.”
As of now, no counties in Northern Indiana have declared a state of emergency, however, commissioner Yoder says that if conditions worsen with the extreme temperatures, they will reconsider.