Montezuma residents await repairs to washed-out road, hike to homes
HIGH WATER PREPAREDNESS
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The mayor of Montezuma carried a backpack with water, medication and dog food as she hiked up to her home.
Lesley Davis and the rest of the town’s roughly 35 permanent residents could come and go only on foot Wednesday. The day before, rushing water on the Snake River carried away huge chunks of Montezuma Road, the only route in and out of the tiny town.
Davis said residents who left children and pets at home when they went to work Tuesday had since checked on them.
“Everyone’s still doing good,” Davis said. “Everyone’s pretty patient and comfortable.”
Summit County spokeswoman Julie Sutor said the county could give no estimate as to when the road will be fixed.
A blocked drainage culvert was to blame, she said, and no similar incidents have occurred in the road’s 65-plus-year history.
County road and bridge department employees, who periodically check and clear blocked culverts, went to Jackson County to bring back a temporary bridge. They hoped to install it as soon as possible to restore vehicle access to the road, but if the bridge doesn’t work for some reason, other department employees will work on other solutions.
For now, the only access to and from the town of Montezuma is a hike that takes about 30 to 45 minutes through the trees.
Workers have been shuttling residents from the roadblock to the spot where they can start the hike, Davis said, saving them an hour or two of walking.
That shuttle will be in place from about 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. Thursday, Sutor said. After that workers will assist as needed.
Davis said Montezuma residents are anxious to know when they can leave by car and, for those whose jobs are elsewhere in Summit, return to their work commutes.
“That’s been the hardest part,” she said, adding that the community has rallied and others in Summit have offered housing, food and supplies.
“We’re all pulling together,” she said. “Everyone has been so helpful.”
By early Tuesday afternoon, county officials closed Montezuma Road about 1.5 miles west of the Peru Creek Trailhead due to a half mile of serious damage including a washed-out portion of the road about 45 feet long and 15 feet deep.
Ten to 12 residents evacuated Tuesday, and about 20 people chose to stay in Montezuma. Most of those who evacuated hiked home Wednesday, Davis said, and residents were prepared to be stuck in town for five to 10 days.
“Thank goodness there’s still power,” she said.
Cable phone lines to the town were cut in the process of repairing the road, and cell service normally doesn’t reach the town, so Davis said residents have limited communication through satellite Internet.
CenturyLink is working to restore phone service, Sutor said, but the county again would give no time frame.
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