By Lisa Meadows

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over 600 people had to be rescued from stranded cars across southern Minnesota this weekend — some stuck in 7-foot snow drifts.

“I passed a family in a car stopped to help them get out and then realized we weren’t going anywhere else,” Michael Volpe said.

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Stuck in the snow and no way to get out, 911 calls started coming in from stranded drivers in desperate need of help.

“As soon as my soldiers hit the ground, I’m glad they were prepared, they hit the ground, they got the SUSV up and operational, and so as soon as they got that up, they start doing recovery operations,” said National Guard Captain Joseph Howe.

The Minnesota National Guard made more than 160 rescues, taking them back to a pop-up shelter at the Owatonna Armory.

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“We had over 200 people here yesterday, We had about 187 sleep overnight,” Howe said.

Local volunteers came to streamline the take-in process and provide free meals, while toys and coloring books were passed out for kids. They worked with the National Guard to make everyone feel a comfortable as possible.

“I slept on the floor along with my soldiers for the two hours we got down. Our cots were used up and we gave the cots up, so we slept on the floor,” Howe said.

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Now that the wind has died down, it’s the cold people have to battle while shoveling out. Rough conditions will continue into Monday night.

Lisa Meadows