His car was just one of 30 from the La Salle County Sheriff's Office out late Tuesday and early Wednesday pulling scores of people from disabled vehicles.
The sheriff's office reported 96 disabled vehicles and more than 450 calls for assistance.
"It was a total whiteout," Whalen said. "You couldn't see anything in front of your car and there were terrible wind chills."
The snow storm dumped 13.5 inches in 24 hours, according to a reading from the National Weather Service in Marseilles, and featured wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
The sheriff's office confirmed one death suspected as a result of the weather. Kernan man Andrew Berg, 47, died near the Kernan blacktop trying to walk home late Tuesday night from his snowbound car.
Friends and family searched for and found Berg in whiteout conditions. He was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday in the emergency room at St. Mary's Hospital in Streator.
Whalen said the whole department was active picking up motorists and taking them to shelters. The sheriff's office, the Etna Oasis Truck Stop on Route 71, Grand Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Earlville served as warming shelters for the stranded.
As of noon Wednesday, Whalen said all county roads were closed for cleanup. Cars still remain in ditches or stopped in their tracks along the road.
"We can't open the roads until we take care of the stranded cars," Whalen said.
Tracy Morgan, a Grand Ridge Volunteer Fire Department captain, said volunteer crews rescued about a dozen people overnight and brought them back to the station, which was converted into a warming center. He said most of them were stranded along Grand Ridge-Mazon blacktop and Route 23 between Streator and Ottawa.
"We had to take a front-end loader to go on the blacktop, because it was impassable, then we had a four-wheel drive pickup following behind," Morgan said. "We used snowmobiles around town to pick up people and help out. We had to take another lady to St. Mary's Hospital in Streator."
There were still eight people stranded at the station as of Wednesday morning, according to Morgan. He said the station served drinks and breakfast.
Trooper Craig Graham of La Salle-based Illinois State Police District 17 said state police officers working with National Guard units in military Humvees rescued several motorists along Interstates 80 and 39. "We transported the stranded people to the nearest truck stop or motel," said Graham.
The trooper said his fellow officers made nearly 70 motorist-assist calls during the storm, "mostly from I-80 and I-39." He estimated approximately 20 vehicles along those routes had to be abandoned after slipping off snow-packed pavements. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, access to the local interstates remained closed.
"Despite the bright sunshine, whiteout conditions from blowing snow still exist in many areas," Graham said Wednesday afternoon.