Postal workers, city crews brave freezing temps - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Postal workers, city crews brave freezing temps

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Dubuque letter carrier Dave Drexler delivers mail Monday in sub-zero temperatures Dubuque letter carrier Dave Drexler delivers mail Monday in sub-zero temperatures

While many people stayed safe and warm inside, thousands of eastern Iowans were outside, braving the weather because they had to do so for work.

The sidewalks of Dubuque were empty Monday, save for those such as US Postal Service letter carrier Dave Drexler, who had to be outside.

"You don't get many (days like) these," Drexler said Monday afternoon, while delivering mail to houses on Mullen Road. "You get one or two in the winter season. Sometimes you go all the way through without getting one like this. But you just bundle up, and the mail must go through."

As the phrase often associated with the US Postal Service goes, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

After Monday, letter carriers throughout the Midwest can certainly add "double-digit sub-zero temperatures" to that list of treacherous conditions.

Drexler has been at his job for nearly three decades and said Monday was one of the coldest he's ever worked. After more than 20 years on this particular route, however, Drexler has some help staying warm.

"I had a lady give me a nice thermos of hot that helps you get through the day," Drexler said. "I'm part of the neighborhood."

Elsewhere in Dubuque, "water main break" is not what city crews wanted to hear in weather like this, but that's what they got Monday morning, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin avenues.

Randy Link was one of the laborers on scene, helping repair the water main break.

"As soon as they're done here, we're going home - unless they call again," Link said, his eyebrows and eyelashes covered with ice.

Dubuque's public works crews were out in full force, despite the thermometer.

"We just sort of dress in layers and wear thick, heavy gloves," Dubuque sanitation driver Chad Berendes said. "The main thing is just try to keep going and, if we need to take a break to warm up, we're told to take a break and warm up."

He said super-low temperatures like Monday's can also hurt equipment.

"It's a little bit harder on the trucks, like our hydraulics," Berendes said. "Some of those will freeze up and some of the tailgates will freeze up and not want to open up at the end of the day, and sometimes our brakes will freeze up, too."

Bunker Hill sledding area, a popular place on days of canceled school, was desolate Monday.

The sub-zero temperatures even had a chilling effect on attendance at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

Monday afternoon, museum educator Sarah-Louise Warren was the only person in one of the museum's main exhibit areas.

"Nobody wants to go anywhere," Warren said. "My car wouldn't start this morning. I can't imagine anybody else's did. It looks like all the businesses are open, and it's bright and sunny out, but it just is too cold to get any car to function."

Monday was so cold, even Sundown Mountain Resort shut down its slopes. Skiers and snowboarders can return once the business opens again on Wednesday.

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