PANHANDLE -- The snowstorm that almost missed Sidney closed roads mid-day December 26, resulting in numerous travelers and commuters stranded.

Communities including North Platte and Ogallala reported being overwhelmed with the number of people needing rooms for the night.

Keith County Emergency Management commended the businesses and volunteers who helped accommodate the stranded families. Families opened their homes to travelers in need, schools were opened, restaurants opened to feed the unexpected guests.

In Chappell, stranded travelers were offered housing at the firehall. Deuel County Sheriff's deputies transported many people from stranded vehicles to the safety of the firehall. 

Leslie Snell said Chappell doesn't have a 24-hour shelter for travelers, and offered a solution.

"I proposed to the Rural Fire Board about four years ago that I would provide support and organize meals, etc., to all during severe weather events in the future. I received a call from the Deuel County Sheriff yesterday (December 26) about a number of stranded travelers. With the help of family and friends, we opened the Chappell Firehall to provide soup, salad and sandwiches. Creek Valley Schools loaned out some gymnastics mats for people to sleep on. Everyone was warm and fed for the night," said said.
She said she went out this morning and checked on everyone. Travelers were offered coffee and toast, and some snacks were available. Most travelers were able to leave by 11 a.m.

At 7:12 a.m. today, Cheyenne County Sheriff Adam Frerichs announced Interstate 80 was open both directions from Wyoming to North Platte. Work is still underway on U.S. Highway 30.