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Whomped A Third Time
2/8/2008 By: Melanie Mazur
The big problem with the snow in Bayfield, as of Tuesday afternoon, was where to put the darn stuff, according to Bayfield Marshal Jim Harrington.
“As far as accepting the copious amounts of snow, people have run out of room to put it. We are getting neighborhood disputes over that,” Harrington said. Finding places to park has been another issue.
“People aren’t used to this quantity of snow,” he said, adding, “These are very minor issues.” He hadn’t heard of any building collapses.
He said people have done an excellent job with their driving on snowy roads. “I’m very pleased with they way people are driving.”
Harrington lives several miles north of town. “I’ve had one (heck) of a lot of snow at my house,” he said, estimating “easily” four feet total including the Jan. 5 storm. Counting drifts and snow that has fallen out of trees, he said, “It’s over my wife’s head, and she is 5’4”.
He thinks part of the problem is that the snow has been so heavy and wet, especially the Jan. 5 storm. “And it’s been so cold. There was no January thaw” to provide some respite.
The snow in the Pine River Times parking lot was 16 to 18 inches deep after the Sunday snow.
Ignacio Town Manager Balty Quintana estimated nine or 10 inches in Ignacio, and around 15 inches at his daughter’s house southwest of town.
“We have it pretty much under control” in town, he said Tuesday.
“We had a full crew of four working the last three days,” Quintana said. He also did some plowing when one man was out.
The town hall was closed Monday, and the town planning commission meeting that evening was cancelled. As of Tuesday, the plan was to have the snow pile in the middle of Goddard Avenue removed by Wednesday evening “before another storm comes in.”
All this snow “is tough on the old folks and people who have plowed-in driveways,” Quintana said. “We’re trying to keep a list of the handicapped and disabled, and anyone who can’t clear their driveway.”
But he said he’d seen a lot of Ignacio residents helping each other. “I’m pretty impressed,” he said.
Ignacio schools were closed Monday and Tuesday. Bayfield schools were closed on Monday.
Ignacio Superintendent Juvie Jones said Wednesday afternoon that schools stayed closed on Tuesday because a lot of the county roads were only open one lane. One bus got stuck, one couldn’t be dug out, and one was stuck in Southfork with a student ski group.
They skiied at Wolf Creek on Sunday, but they couldn’t get back because of a snowslide, Jones said. They’d been staying in Southfork and were about ready to drive to Albuquerque and then come north when the pass opened Wednesday.
“We’re waiting for them,” he said. Vehicles were coming through in a line.
The second day of school closures gave the district maintenance staff more time to deal with the snow, he said. The schools were in “pretty decent shape” Wednesday, except for the perennial problem of leaks in the high school roof. They are mainly in the office area.
“This is the first time I can remember since 1997 that school was called off,” Jones said. He’s still trying to clear the driveway at his house near Ignacio. “We have a little over three feet at our house, 17 to 18 inches out of this last storm.”
He said it’s wearing him out, but he added, “When I was growing up in Durango, I don’t remember any Christmas when there wasn’t at least one and a half to three feet of snow.” Now a white Christmas seems rare.
Upper Pine Fire Chief Rich Graeber said Wednesday, “We’ve had a few snow-related emergencies,” plus the atrium at the old Black Dog Tavern collapsing Tuesday. It had been closed since a fire, also snow related, a few years ago. It’s just west of Helen’s Store on County Road 240.
They spent an hour getting in to rescue a person who fell off a ladder on Lakeview Drive above Vallecito. The road hadn’t been plowed. They went in on snowmobiles.
“We had a similar situation (Tuesday) in Pine River Ranches. The elderly man was running out of medications, lives in an older mobile home, and a tractor trying to plow got bogged down in his driveway.”
Upper Pine got him out, and the Red Cross provided lodging for him, Graeber said.
“We rented one of those ATV track vehicles for this kind of stuff,” he said. They can help snowbound people get in and out.
“We’ve gotten a few carbon monoxide calls because vents are blocked up,” Graeber continued. Snow on roofs can block them, or pull them over when snow slides off a metal roof.
He urged people to be alert for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as headache, fatigue, and grogginess. If that’s happening, get out of the building.
“We dug out 13 strategically located hydrants in town. We’d invite any homeowner with a hydrant in front to dig it out and notify us.”
Graeber continued, “Our message is help us help you.”
He also warned rural residents with propane to pay attention to where the line comes into the house. Snow and ice coming off roofs broke several of those a few years ago and caused several fires, including at the Black Dog.
Stan Harris at Amerigas asked customers to remove snow off their propane tanks, so built up ice doesn’t rupture propane lines.
In Bayfield, Graeber said Source Gas has been struggling with gas meters buried in snow or damaged. They need air to work properly.
“They are trying to get outside help to shovel those off. It’s starting to become a very serious concern,” Graeber said. Aside from all that, he said, “Overall we’ve been pretty fortunate.”