Thursday, February 21, 2013
The winter storm that brought much of Kansas to a halt Thursday halted many travelers at Salina.
Many of them stopped well before Interstate 70 was closed west of the city for several hours Thursday afternoon and evening, filling up local hotels and motels.
Bruce Hayes and his wife were among them. They stopped Wednesday night, not wanting to chance the rapidly deteriorating road conditions on their trip from Columbia, Mo. to Denver.
Salina is a typical halfway point on their trip, so they usually spend a night here. Unusual this trip is the amount of time they were spending in Salina.
"I think we've cleaned out the vending machine and we're heading to the grocery store," Bruce Hayes said Thursday afternoon.
Luckily, grocery stores were open because some restaurants and other businesses were not open for the day. That left stranded travelers with a few less food options than other days.
Still, Mr. and Mrs. Hayes wanted to get off the road before they were truly stranded somewhere between Salina and Denver.
"We were on the way back from seeing the grandkids and it started snowing about 30 miles east of Salina," Bruce Hayes said. "We saw about five spin-outs before we got to the turn-off and figured, 'Oh, it's time.'"
Hundreds of truck drivers also waited in Salina for the storm to pass and roads to clear.
"I got up this morning about 4 a.m. and it took me like two-and-a-half hours to drive 83 miles, I said, 'I can't see the lanes of the road. I'd better stop before I end up in the ditch,'" said Johnny Perry.
He was also trying to get to Denver. Perry decided even before I-70 had been closed that it was too dangerous to get there until the storm had passed.
"There's nothing more important out here than your safety as well as your actual life or someone else's life and I wouldn't want to put anyone else in danger as well as myself," he said.