Teams take aid to people stranded by deep drifts
February 12, 2008
DENVER – Rescue teams on Sno-Cats and snowmobiles delivered food, medicine and propane Tuesday to more than a dozen people trapped in their homes by wind-whipped snow piled as high as 24 feet in the central Colorado mountains.Officials said near-hurricane-strength winds piled up deep drifts across Park County, about 50 miles southwest of Denver. No injuries had been reported.About 100 people were believed to be stranded in their homes, and officials had answered 16 request for emergency supplies by Tuesday afternoon.”We haven’t had to rescue anybody from their homes yet, but supplies are definitely running low,” said Fire Chief Mike Roll of the North-West Fire Protection District. “Cupboards are getting bare.”County officials declared an emergency, allowing them to request snow plows, dump trucks and other equipment from surrounding counties, along with personnel to help make deliveries.”Road crews have been able to keep state roads open, but secondary and private roads are cemented with snow drifts,” Roll said.U.S. 285, the main route through the county, was temporarily closed Monday night but had reopened by Tuesday.The Colorado Department of Transpiration sent heavy equipment to help clear roads.The state Department of Corrections was also sending heavy equipment and a crew of staff members and minimum-security inmates to operate it, corrections spokesman Catherine Sanguinetti said.Roll said the trapped residents were scattered across the county on ranches and in subdivisions.”These residents are within five minutes of town normally, but the roads are so buried that they don’t have access,” Roll said.About 8 inches of snow has fallen since Feb. 1, driven by winds gusting up to 70 mph. Hurricane-force winds start at 74 mph.”That’s deceptive because winds of only about 25 mph can push the snow around and cause snow drifts,” said Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.Forecasters said up to 8 more inches of snow was possible by Thursday.Much of the sparsely populated county is at high elevations, including the 14,286-foot Mount Lincoln.In northern Colorado, an avalanche closed Colorado 14 over Cameron Pass Tuesday. No injuries reported.The pass, at 10,276 feet above sea level, is northwest of Rocky Mountain National Park.