Despite snowstorm, life goes onby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — This was a blizzard. Cars crawled along at 30 mph or less on the freeways. Many cars got stuck on off ramps -- or ended up in the ditch. Then, motorists who to help them ended up blocking the ramps.
Hardware stores were popular destinations on Saturday. Caleb Majerus at Frattalone's Ace Hardware Store said people bought shovels and salt in droves.
"We've sold a lot of snowblowers, which has been really nice. More than usual," said Majerus. "We sold like five or six snowblowers. At $400-$500 apiece, that's kind of a big investment."
But Minnesotans know winter, and that means most know when to stay inside. It was pretty clear Saturday was one of those days.
Lots of people stocked up on groceries Friday night -- some markets reported being out of staples like bread -- and then most people just holed up.
Even some neighborhood diners were empty. The 24-hour Uptown Dinerin Minneapolis usually serves about 600-700 customers on a Saturday. On Saturday, the crowd was less than half that -- more like 300.
"It's killing business. It doesn't help pay the bills, that's for sure," said the diner's Joe Sipprell.
Plowing efforts did little good, because as soon as the roads were cleared, more snow fell or was blown around, and they were covered again. Plows were even called off the roads in several areas of the state.
Neighborhood streets were largely left to cross-country skiers and sledders.
Metro Transit buses ran their routes for a time on Saturday, carrying many families to a Catholic Charities warehouse in Minneapolis to pick up bags of gifts for the holidays.
The buses got them there, but then transit officials suspended bus service because so many of them were getting stuck in the snow. Many of the people at the Catholic Charities facility were stuck, too. Catholic Charities co-CEO Bob Spinner drove some families home himself.
"You'll get part way down a street and there'll be a car stuck in the middle, and you'll have to back up and go around and find a different way around," said Spinner. "But we got everyone home and that was great."
Plenty of others didn't have a home to go to. Homeless shelters that have been full for months are squeezing in even more people. At the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul, around 200 people slept on the floor.
Shelter officials say they had to take measures like this because of a snowstorm.
"When's the last time anyone remembers snow like this? But there are no snow days when you work with people who are poor and are homeless," said Rebecca Lentz, a Catholic Charities spokeswoman.
Some events went ahead despite the snowstorm -- including the commencement ceremony at Mankato State University. About 1,200 students were set to graduate, and about 550 of them showed up.
"No one that I have talked to on campus remembers any time the ceremony was canceled because of weather," said campus spokesman Michael Cooper, adding that they didn't want Saturday to be the first time.
And nothing can stop some life events.
Henry and Alexandra Kisitu went through with their wedding ceremony on Saturday, despite the snowstorm.
The couple said they never considered postponing the wedding, which was held at St. Stanislaus Church in St Paul. Henry Kisitu is originally from Uganda, and most of his relatives who flew in from that country had never seen snow.
Many guests had to dig themselves out of their homes to get to the wedding -- two guests arrived with shovels still in hand. Henry Kisitu took it in stride.
"Back home, when it rains on a big day like this, it's always a blessing. So I will take it to be the same," said Kisitu. "The big snow -- I think it's a blessing for us. We'll never forget this."
Kisitu says the snow only made their big day more memorable.