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Neighbors help each other after snowfall

Neigbors along Michael Street in Huntley were out in force to help each other to clear the snow from driveways.
Neigbors along Michael Street in Huntley were out in force to help each other to clear the snow from driveways.

Joanne Chase thinks her husband, Colin, is crazy – figuratively speaking.

On Wednesday morning, Colin Chase, like just about everyone, was busy digging out more than a foot of snow from the front porch and driveway of his Coventry Lane home in Crystal Lake with his son Cameron Chase. In the thick of Tuesday’s monster blizzard, Colin Chase took to the streets to help trapped motorists.

“I think he’s crazy, but he seemed pretty confident he could get people out,” Joanne Chase said.

Listening to the police scanner from home, Colin Chase heard reports of cars stuck on snowy roadways, so about midnight Wednesday he hopped in his four-wheel-drive Jeep Cherokee and headed out.

“The police can’t get to them, so who else can?” Colin Chase said.

For at least an hour early Wednesday, he drove around and helped about six people stuck in snowdrifts on Route 14 in Crystal Lake.

Not that Colin Chase’s heroic efforts were recommended. The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office had urged drivers to stay home during the height of the storm and while roads were being cleared Wednesday.

Houston-born but Illinois-bred, Colin Chase was not afraid of any dangerous snowfall.

“I’ve lived through all of this [stuff],” he said. “Snow doesn’t bother me at all. … I live up here; I expect this.”

Joanne Chase added: “I’ve lived here all my life, and I still don’t get used to it.”

Down the road on Lee Drive in the Coventry subdivision, Jason Szatkowski used a heavy-duty snowblower to dig a path in the sidewalk and help his neighbors out of their driveways.

“I haven’t even finished my own [driveway] yet, I’ve been busy doing everybody else’s,” Szatkowski said about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. He had been out helping his neighbors since about 7 a.m., he said.

Billy Raike, who also lives on Lee Drive, stopped to chat with Szatkowski.

Raike recalled Tuesday night’s 3½-hour drive home from his workplace on Chicago’s North Side. He said most cars were driving slower than 10 mph.

“It was ridiculous. I almost died six times,” he said, laughing. “I was watching cars play bumper cars off the Randall Road exit. … You [couldn’t] see the road; you [couldn’t] see the cars in front of you.”

Jerry Behrens planned to shovel around a nearby Lee Drive fire hydrant, “so the snowplows can come and cover it again,” he said, laughing.

Ice and snow clung to Szatkowski’s beard and eyelashes as he tried to stay warm in thick snow pants and heavy winter boots. The reward for Szatkowski’s Good Samaritan efforts?

“I’m going to have a couple beers and enjoy my day off,” he said.

Neighbors along Michael Street in Huntley also came out of their warm homes to help dig each other out.

“We are a tight-knit neighborhood, always helping each other,” said Carol Skala of Huntley.

John Masbaum Jr. of McHenry had help from his neighbor who saw him sweating as he tried to get his car out so he could fetch gas for his snowblower.

“People help each other out,” Masbaum said.

Char Krueger was shoveling her sidewalk and complimented her neighbor for helping out with the snowblower.

“Love thy neighbor is right,” Krueger said.

Bob Krueger was working on using a snowblower to clear his driveway and had a unique opinion about the blizzard.

“I think we should have this once a week,” Bob Krueger said. “It keeps everyone active.”

• Reporter Joseph Bustos contributed to this report.

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