Osage employees worked in blizzard conditions for their community

It seems like a distant memory now, the record-breaking snowstorms that shut down the Nation’s operations for nearly two weeks. Now Osages are enjoying the near 80-degree weather.

But not all Osages were snuggled inside their warm homes enjoying a day off from work. The employees of the Osage Nation Maintenance Department, Emergency Management, the Clinical/Medical Services department and the Osage Nation Police Department were on duty and on call.

“On the first night of the snowstorm (Feb. 1) we transported a caregiver to an elder that needed round-the-clock care and the caregiver wasn’t able to get there so we picked her up and delivered her,” said Bobby Tallchief, director for the Emergency Management Department. “We contacted everyone on Senior Circle and made sure they were okay at [Principal Chief John Red Eagle’s] request, and everyone really appreciated the fact that the chief had checked on them.”

During the course of those two weeks the reservation saw nearly 40 inches of snow, the temperature dropped to -28 degrees in Bartlesville, which is 20 miles east of Pawhuska. Pipes froze and broke all over the reservation and on Senior Circle, where the Nation’s elders live, six families had to be placed in hotels and other living arrangements while the Nation’s maintenance department fixed the problem.

“We really appreciate the extra effort that many of our employees made to get out and come to work in order for the rest of us to be able to finally bet back to work. The severity of the weather was unprecedented,” Red Eagle said. “Our campus maintenance crew assisted with clearing streets and walkways. The Housing department maintenance crew had water problems to deal with at Senior Housing. Our emergency management staff was monitoring the approaching storms and providing information to employees and others. Of course, the Osage Nation Police Department had to go to work as usual.” 

Luckily, no severe situations occurred for the nation's departments. Everyone, for the most part, was prepared for the winter storms and it made Tallchief’s job easier, he said. The maintenance crews had the job every day of clearing all the snow, something they did from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Clinical/Medical Services saw patients during the break; their offices are housed within the Pawhuska Indian Health Service clinic.  

“My thanks to everyone who made the effort to help others,” Red Eagle said.