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Olivia armory gives shelter to 75 stranded motorists

OLIVIA - At least 75 people spent the night at the National Guard Armory in Olivia last night.

Travelers started arriving at 3 p.m. yesterday when blizzard conditions reduced visibility and made driving impossible.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation had also closed highways in west central and southern Minnesota.

The Marshall armory also had about 18 travelers spend the night there.

Sgt. Phil Wohlman, one of two Olivia guard employees who scurried to find cots and blankets for the travelers, said there were families with children and elderly couples who slept in the armory's gym.

"It was quite a zoo for a while," he said.

"We had people from Watertown, the Twin Cities and people even as close as Danube that didn't make it home."

The armory ran out of cots and made two trips to the Red Cross in town to get enough blankets.

"I think they there were just pretty happy to have a place to stay because the hotels were full," said Wohlman.

People passed the time by playing cards or Sudoko, he said.

By 8 a.m. today most had left the armory but Wohlman said a few were still sleeping in the gym.

"They were all very appreciative for the place to stay," he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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