Morning Meeting: Interstate 29 A “War Zone”

Posted: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 10:44 am
By: Karen Sherman
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The big question today… what happened in Northeastern South Dakota that led to more than 150 drivers getting stuck overnight on the Interstate? Getting that answer for you is just the beginning of our coverage today on what a Highway Patrol Trooper says looks like a “war zone” over a stretch of Interstate 29 south of Sisseton.

Erich Schaffhauser is coming into the danger zone from the west. He’s headed to the Summit area to talk with people who’ve been rescued and are now stranded at a convenience store.

Our Photojournalist Kevin Kjergaard headed up I-29 from the south and met up with this sign at Watertown.  He’ll talk with people on that end of the situation.

Interstate 29 At Watertown Exit

Interstate 29 At Watertown Exit

We’re hearing that officials started getting calls that the roads were bad in the area before 10pm last night, yet KELOLAND News did not get an e-mail from the South Dakota DOT that the interstate was closed from Watertown to the North Dakota border until 6:37 this morning. Shawn Neisteadt’s going to look into why the section of interstate stayed open for so long.  He’s also going to talk with Governor Dennis Daugaard shortly.

It’s one of those situations that’s going to change constantly throughout the day. We have at least seven reporters working on gathering details for you today, so keep coming back to between newscasts for the latest developments.

You can help also through viewer reports by e-mailing us at or sending photos to If you or someone you know was stranded, give us a call on our KELOLAND News Tipline at 800-888-KELO.


  1. Tara Anderson says:

    Even though the DOT didn’t contact Keloland, the wind speed in NE SD was definitely overlooked last night. The news map at 10:00 showed 0 mph winds in Sisseton–there is no way that could have been accurate. I had heard reports through friends and family throughout the day about drifts on the interstate south of Sisseton, and it was obvious by 9:00 that wind speeds were quite high in the Coteau Hills. Yet I could not find out anything on the local news about when the winds were supposed to die down. The fact that the DOT failed to update road conditions is also upsetting. When we live in these areas, communication is of the utmost importance so people can be aware of what they’re driving into. No one should have been stranded overnight on the interstate. Maybe if news stations didn’t just focus on the Sioux Falls area all the time, viewers would actually feel like these stations are doing a decent job of reporting.

  2. Dave B says:

    I agree. somebodies head better roll for his/her lack of ability to do the job and putting lots of people at risk. There is no reason for what happened today to have happened. Its just plain laziness on the DOT’s part to not communicate this problem.

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