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Polar blast inflicts less damage in Milwaukee, Madison than similar weather five years ago (UPDATE)

A billboard in Port Washington reminds passersby on Wednesday to bundle up amid the arctic blast that inflicted damage on old infrastructure throughout the Midwest. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

A blast of polar air enveloped much of the Midwest on Wednesday, cracking train rails, breaking water pipes and straining electrical systems. But in Wisconsin’s two largest cities, city officials were saying the cold snap hadn’t caused as much damage to infrastructure as had the previous deep freeze five years ago.

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Siblings find way to keep Madison hardware store in family amid changing times

The Novotny siblings, from left, Skyler, 27, Shawna, 29, and Shane, 34, stand on Oct. 23 in their Quality Hardware store in Madison. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Scott Novotny's nickname – Mr. Salty – was truly fitting. Every fall would find the owner of the Quality True Value Hardware Store in Madison, a business Novotny bought from his parents in 2006, bringing in loads of ice melt in preparation for the inevitable slick sidewalks and driveways that are part and parcel of Wisconsin winters. The 50-pound bags would be stacked in front of the store, lying in heaps along its sidewalk, and around the building's south side, into its small parking lot.

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