EFFINGHAM — While Effingham has long been known as a way station for truckers, Sunday's snowstorm — followed by Monday's bitter cold — overwhelmed local truck stops in a big way.
Truck stops became so crowded that late-coming rigs were diverted to the Effingham Performance Center at the intersection of Avenue of Mid-America and Outer Belt West. Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy said the decision was made this morning to open both the performance center's main lot and its overflow lot across the street.
"We had trucks parked on Evergreen (Avenue), Outer Belt West, Walmart, Menards and Kmart, among other places," Holomy said. "All the truck stops were full and we were running out of room."
The chief said incoming truckers needing a break from snow-packed highways were being steered to the performance center by signs at local truck stops and through commonly used citizens-band radio channels.
Trucker Joe Relett of Three Oaks, Mich., was in the driver's seat in one of about a dozen rigs at the performance center by midday. Coming from Michigan, Relett wasn't fazed by either the storm or the cold.
"It's just part of the job," he said. "It's not unusual."
Relett had been trying to drop off a load in Sullivan, but Effingham was the closest place he could stop because of jam-packed truck stops throughout the region.