DANVILLE – For those who spent their day watching rented movies, Tuesday's snowstorm had great timing.
"Our new releases came out today," said Niccole Yates of Danville, who was staffing the Family Video Store on Gilbert Street in Danville by herself Tuesday.
Little did Yates know she would be so busy.
"We're swamped," Yates said as she was ringing up customers, many renting multiple movies and games. "This has just been crazy. I thought we'd be dead."
Her co-workers, from the Bismarck and Hoopeston areas, couldn't make it to work Tuesday.
The February snowstorm that has walloped the Midwest began dumping several inches of snow on Danville and the rest of Vermilion County just before midnight Tuesday. All Vermilion County and Danville schools were closed Tuesday, along with most government offices and many businesses.
The wind created more havoc with blowing and drifting snow making it difficult for crews to clear streets, roadways and county highways and lessening visibility for motorists. Many county roads were impassable.
Danville Mass Transit buses halted service at 3:15 p.m. because of blizzardlike conditions but expected to resume service today on limited routes, "assuming it stops snowing," Director Richard Brazda said.
Mass Transit officials are taking a "wait and see" approach before deciding to resume service to Georgetown and Champaign today, Brazda said.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Danville and Vermilion County school officials already anticipated being closed again today.
Danville School Superintendent Nanette Mellen said First Student Bus Director Terry Kegley wasn't sure it would even be possible to get the buses out to run routes today.
"It's not looking good for" today, Mellen said.
County road crews hit the pavement before dawn Tuesday morning but halted plowing at midday and closed the roads because of blowing and drifting snow. Township road crews did the same earlier in the day.
The county trucks resumed plowing at about 4 p.m. Tuesday and were scheduled to work until 8 p.m., quit for the night and resume at 5 a.m. today.
Danville crews continued to plow but concentrated on 12 main routes, including Bowman Avenue, Gilbert Street, Logan Avenue, Lynch Road and Main, Vermilion and Voorhees streets.
"Right now, it's a losing battle," said Bob Andrews, engineer for the county, which had up to eight trucks tackling roads Tuesday and again this morning. "We can't stay ahead of it.
"The problem is the wind blowing at 40 miles an hour," Andrews said. "You get 4-foot drifts. And there are a lot of 1- and 2-foot drifts; cars just can't get through those."
The city has been rotating 15-man crews every 18 hours, according to Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer.
City officials said Tuesday afternoon that residential areas would be made passable as weather permits and as crews manage to shift from the major routes.
But officials didn't anticipate significant plowing in residential areas until late Tuesday or early this morning.
The city has $65,000 available in overtime for emergency events, Eisenhauer said. Crews will continue to operate on an emergency schedule until 24 hours after the snow event, he said.
Danville Mass Transit limited its bus service to in-town routes on Tuesday, operating seven of its 12 routes, Eisenhauer said. Service from Danville to Champaign and Georgetown was suspended because of the weather, as blowing and drifting snow reduced traffic to a crawl on Interstate 74.
Some out-of-state travelers found refuge in Danville hotels.
On their way from Sturgis, S.D., Merle Boy, 69, and his wife, Rita, made their scheduled stop Monday night at Sleep Inn and Suites just outside of Danville.
The retired couple wants to be in Rome, Ga., by Friday. They were unaware of the impending storm.
"We walked in and the staff asked us if it was snowing yet," Merle Boy said.
The pair will sit out the weather and won't attempt to leave "until you can see across the street," he said, adding that they may attempt to leave this morning.
"We're pretty used to it," he said. "When Mother Nature hands you a blast, you just sit it out and don't fight it."