Beau Tindell of Cedar Rapids is safe, warm, and grateful today. I spoke to him this morning after a scary Thursday battling what he described to me as, "one of the worst storms I've ever been in." He'll also be forever grateful to a local family that provided him warmth and helped him rescue two others.

Thursday at 3 p.m., Beau tried to head home to Cedar Rapids. Approximately ten minutes later, he came to a halt on Highway 151, south of the Norway corner, due to an accident ahead. He and his carpool buddy sat in his Jeep Grand Cherokee waiting.  Knowing the area roads well, Beau decided to try Benton-Iowa Road, in an attempt to get around the accident. After making it about three-quarters of a mile west, he got stuck. Another vehicle nearby also got stuck.

Google Maps
Benton-Iowa Road in red, via Google Maps

The three men tried to free their vehicles. Realizing it was a lost cause, they decided they had no choice but to try to go for help. Leaving the two in a warm vehicle, Beau began to walk back toward 151. He stopped at one home. No one was there. He trudged on, finally arriving at the home of Maggie Schulze-Wendel, and her husband Tim, near Highway 151 and Benton-Iowa Road. He had walked about three-quarters of a mile.

When I talked to Maggie this morning she told me it was 4:21 p.m. when her doorbell rang and she saw Beau outside, violently shaking from the cold. Beau told me Maggie offered a hot drink and food as well as the warmth of the family's heated garage. He soon shared with the Wendel's that he had left two people behind and needed to get help for them.

The Wendel's own snowmobiles, and soon Tim and Beau took off to rescue the other two men. A snowdrift in the Wendel driveway at the time was already higher than the hood of a pickup. Their rescue was successful, and everyone was returned to the warmth of the garage.

Between 6 and 6:30 p.m. all three men got rides home and expressed their eternal gratitude to Maggie and Tim. Beau's commute is typically 15 minutes. Thursday, he finally arrived home via a buddy's truck 4-and-a-half hours after he'd started out on an adventure he could never have imagined. His Jeep Grand Cherokee is still stuck this morning, along with so many other vehicles across Iowa. Beau's hoping to be able to retrieve his SUV today.

Maggie tells me that Highway 151 outside her home turned into a parking lot just after 3 p.m. Thursday. She said traffic finally started moving again at 7:07 p.m and shared, "People need to prepare themselves. Have a coat, gloves, and make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. You just never know."

Tim and Maggie weren't the only ones doing great deeds Thursday. The Iowa Snowdrifters posted on Facebook that they assisted the Benton County Sheriff's Office in taking six stranded people to the Newhall fire station and also plowed out "several stuck vehicles that would have been stuck overnight... Easily 5 foot drifts across the road. One of the worst nights in memory." We know they weren't alone. Thanks to a whole lot of wonderful people, both those who get paid to help and those that don't, the night didn't conclude with what could have been terrible endings.

Blizzard of 2021 Along Highway 151

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