More than 500 stranded motorists in seven warming centres as of Tues. evening

petrolia line-tuesday

In the wake of one of the worst winter storms in recent history, roughly 560 individuals were being kept warm Tuesday evening in some seven centres across eastern Lambton County municipalities (including Wyoming, Watford, Warwick, Forest, Thedford and Petrolia).

The update, issued by Lambton County's Office of the Warden, confirmed reports that efforts to move individuals were successful.

About 350 vehicles were stranded, according to the news release, and many homes in the area were without electricity or heat.

A separate news release issued by OPP said multiple rescue partners have now checked all vehicles and removed any passengers found stranded on Highway 402.

The OPP said it checked 200 tractor trailers and 124 cars trapped in deep snow along the highway. Police officers and Canadian Forces personnel rescued 237 people from these vehicles. Some vehicles were found to be abandoned.

The OPP said it will continue to patrol Highway 402 and are now checking nearby roadways on motorized snow vehicles and all terrain vehicles to ensure that no one has been left behind. There are no reports of missing persons in the storm at this time.

There has been one minor injury related to the 402 rescue effort, an OPP officer who was trying to reach stranded motorists.

The Lambton County state-of-emergency remains in effect and Highway 402 remains closed and roads in the surrounding region are considered unsafe due to blowing snow and whiteout conditions. The OPP is urging drivers in the southwest region of the Province to avoid travelling until conditions improve.

Warden Steve Arnold, who declared the state-of-emergency Monday, said "county and municipal road crews continue to work around the clock to provide improved access for emergency vehicles."

A county state of emergency, which was declared by Arnold on Monday, made it possible for Canadian Forces personnel to respond in the effort, including airlifting motorists from the roadway to the warming centres.

Earlier in the day, Lambton County EMS officials issued a caution that ambulance crews might not be able to reach those who would normally receive prompt 9-1-1 help.

Arnold's office, in addition to advising residents and motorists to continue to listen to local radio stations for updates regarding local road closures, reminded those travelling of the importance of doing so with an emergency roadside supplies kit. Such kits should contain items such as extra clothing, food, candles and water.

Adjacent Middlesex County has declared a state-of-emergency and closed several roads but OPP said there were no reports of stranded motorists there.

The local emergency response efforts are being coordinated with support from the OPP, Canadian Forces, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Emergency Management Ontario and local emergency responders, including police, fire and EMS, the update said.

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