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Blizzard creates many tow jobs

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | FEBRUARY 04, 2011 7:10 AM

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Iowa City police ordered 30 cars towed after Tuesday’s snowstorm, but that number doesn’t include the ones towed by private companies after calls from drivers.

While city officials have been focusing on cars in high-priority areas — such as the ones blocking streets — Iowa City police Sgt. Mike Lord said the police would likely start expanding their efforts.

“They are going to get a lot more serious about the emergency stuff from now on so the number [of cars] could start going up,” he said.

He said the majority of cars they have dealt with have been on major roads such as Highway 6.

“Today is not like yesterday by any means,” Lord said. “Today, we are getting a lot more vehicle-accident calls.”

After dealing with cars that are a danger, officers may move on to those parked illegally during a snow emergency.

On streets with odd-even parking, the usual evening and Sunday exemptions don’t apply. For streets that permit parking on only one side of the street, parking is allowed on that side every other day — if the permitted side has even-numbered addresses, parking is allowed on even dates. If the permitted side has odd addresses, parking is allowed on odd dates. On streets that allow parking on both sides, odd-even parking takes effect.

“If there wasn’t so much snow around, we would look at it, but we need to prioritize,” Lord said.
He said there are no officers working over time because of the storm.

Private tow companies have also been busy.

Matthew Gragg, the owner of Extreme Towing and Recovery, 1545 Willow Creek Road, said he towed around 40 cars, mostly from highways, since Tuesday night.

He said some people were still stuck Thursday and needed help.

“I had to pull a couple out this morning already,” Gragg said.

George Wagner, the owner of George Town Towing & Repair, 717 Kirkwood Ave., said he’s only towed around six cars so far, but he’s pulled more than a dozen out of ditches.

“[The cars] were off of the highway, some of them were because of accidents, and some were because they slid off the road and hit stuff,” he said.

He said he has not noticed a difference in this storm from previous years other than drifting snow causing problems.

Wagner said the storm is costing everyone money, including insurance companies, city snow removal, and the individuals who had to have their cars towed.

UI senior Kristina Boss said her car got stuck trying to get out of her underground parking garage in Telluride, 278 E. Court St.

“I had to get to the art building because I had an assignment due, and you can’t walk there,” she said. “I thought it would be no problem to get out, but there was a foot of snow that trapped me in the alleyway.”

Boss said she is used to her car getting stuck in the snow on the streets, but was shocked she couldn’t get it out of the parking garage until two other residents finally helped her after 45 minutes.

UI sophomore Abby Helling was unable to attend work because her car was stuck behind a 4-foot snow drift that a plow had piled behind her car.

“I work about 15 minutes away,” she said. “There was no way I was going to get my car out and make it to work on time.”


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