Stay Aware! Schools Closed, Some Roads Impassable
The constant winter storms cycling through the high country are testing emergency preparedness plans that local officials work diligently to have in place for times when high country living can get a bit extreme. And so far, that plan is working.
According to Lake County Office of Emergency Manager Mike McHargue, all local agencies have been in close and continual contact with each other, monitoring the conditions which seem to change hour by hour. But don’t panic, there is a plan in place. And with no sign of relief in sight for the weather, it’s a good time to review what to do. So take a moment to review these simple guidelines and procedures in place for your safety.
First, the Lake County School District has canceled all school and school related activities for January 10. While today would have been the first day back from winter break, district officials sent out the following letter to students and parents early this morning:
Student and staff safety is always our top priority. We have consulted with the Lake County Office of Emergency Management regarding current weather and road conditions. In the interest of student and staff safety, the school district will be closed today, Tuesday, January 10. This includes all schools, after school programs, athletics and The Center preschool program. Please call 719-486-6800 with any questions.
Colorado Mountain College released the following information this morning regarding the Leadville campus: Due to severe weather, Colorado Mountain College in Leadville will open late on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. The Leadville campus will open at noon. At this point, CMC’s other campuses plan to remain open, but we will notify the media if that should change. Note that the spring semester begins Jan. 16.
Next up are the roads. This storm has been very challenging for city and county road crews to keep up with and that includes equipment and personnel. According to Lake County Public Works Director Brad Palmer, two of the county plows broke down yesterday and will be repaired and back on the road – hopefully today. The other challenge has been the road crew getting to work. Several found their own morning commute a bit more challenging after overnight storms and high winds re-arranged every snowflake in town, making some roads impassable until the employees themselves cleared their way into work.
The LCOEM Facebook page also relayed the following road report so that resident may be aware that certain roads around town are not going to be as reliable for travel until the road crew gets back up to full capacity:
Careful traveling to work today due to snow, wind and poor visibility:
Near zero visibility on HWY24 between Twin Lakes and Leadville, HWY 82 has not been plowed as of 0430, HWY91 near zero visibility, HWY300 impassable, CR5 has a 5-foot drifts, CR11 impassable to travel with a passenger vehicle. Public Works are clearing prior routes as quickly as possible.
All in all, if you don’t have to go anywhere – DON’T! I-70 has been shut down most of the morning between Vail and Copper Mountain , which means that travel on Highways 24 (Battle Mountain and Highway 91 (Fremont Pass) could see an increase in traffic as a re-route alternative. Travel is going to be challenging across the state, so re-consider your plans if you can.
Leadville Today will be adding to this report concerning what the procedures are in case of a power of cell phone outage. That should be added to this report shortly. Thanks and stay safe.
UPDATE: In Case of Power, Cell Phone Outage
While most high country denizens live up high for the scenic beauty and outdoor adventure, safety is often a personal responsibility when it comes to keeping you and your family safe. Remote mountain communities like Leadville and Lake County have limited resources and emergency personnel, so taking charge and knowing what the emergency plan is for Lake County is important.
For many, there’s nothing quite like waking up in the middle of a winter’s night only to realize that the power is out. With temperatures hovering at freezing and below, being without lights and heat can be scary. But don’t panic, there’s a plan in place. Leadville Today spoke with Lake County Office of Emergency Management’s (LCOEM) Mike McHargue to discuss what residents need to know.
First, let’s talk basics. Food. While officials recommend residents keep a two-week supply of food on hand, for many that may not be reasonable. Ultimately, you should have at least 3 – 4 days of food, including for your pets, in the cupboards. With I-70 being closed on and off for days now, delivery trucks have been challenged to make it up to America’s Highest City. However, Leadville Today did a morning check with local grocers; both Safeway and Shopko reported no issues with trucks getting through.
“If there were a delay it would only be for a day,” stated Shopko Manager Ben Leppert, expressing shoppers might find access to the store the most challenging, as city streets into the Shopko parking lot have been rough.
Lights and Heat: Check your flashlights and be sure that they are operational and at the ready in the middle of the night, for you and other members of your family. Heat can be a bit trickier if you rely on electricity and do not have a secondary heating source available to you.
So let’s say that you awake in the middle of the night and the power is off at your home. What do you do? First, assess the situation. Is it just your home that has lost power or is it your neighborhood? A simply check out the window should provide the answer. Next Emergency Manager McHargue is asking residents to call the Lake County Sheriff’s Dispatch Office at 719-486-1249 to report power and or/ cell phone outages. Be assured that this call will go to the same switchboard as an emergency call would, however officials are asking residents to leave the 911 calls for life-threatening emergencies. It might be a good idea to put that number in your phone right now.
Next, secure your family for what could possibly be an extended outage, although most are restored within a reasonable amount of time. Keep everyone together and warm; shelter in place until emergency officials have been in touch. Remember venturing out in your own vehicle for help could mean getting stuck in a snow drift and becoming another victim emergency personnel has to rescue.
McHargue explained that once emergency responders are aware of an outage situation they will first issue a reverse emergency call for an area – or the entire county, if need be. So be sure that you are signed up for these alerts. Second, if that is not an option due to possible phone or cell outages, law enforcement will send patrols to the area, to broadcast announcements from their vehicles to let residents know what the next step is.
Shelter: Local officials have a plan in place to shelter residents – hundreds, if necessary. Should the situation get to that point, residents would transported via buses to local shelters. One of the local shelters is Cornerstone Church at 117 E. 6th Street in Leadville. Once emergency officials activate the emergency shelter(s), residents can find food, heat and other necessities to be supplied by the American Red Cross and other Lake County Emergency personnel. The church is located across from the Sixth Street Gym, which is also equipped to be used as a shelter in case a bigger facility is needed.
In the long run, it’s good, old-fashioned common sense and neighborly consideration that will help get you through week-long snow storms. But along the way stay tuned to Leadville Today for updates, as well as the LCOEM Facebook page.
UPDATE: Leadville Police Department
The following information was released by the Leadville Police Department (LPD) this morning:
SNOW REMOVAL – PRIVATE CONTRACTORS & HOMEOWNERS: The City would like to remind private snow removal contractors that they ARE REQUIRED to remove the snow that they plow. They are NOT ALLOWED to plow the snow into another individual’s property, parking place, or onto the sidewalk. Snow removal contractors, please keep this in mind before you accept jobs for snow removal.
Homeowners are reminded that they are NOT allowed to put their snow onto the street. Also, please DO NOT push your snow to the corners of the street. This is creating a hazard as vehicles are unable to see around these piles of snow.
We thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we all deal with the large amount of snow in Leadville.
And for those who haven’t moved that vehicle in front of your house for days, weeks, months, the LPD released the following information:
TOWING: The Police Department will begin to tow vehicles that have obviously been parked on the street for multiple days without being moved. These vehicles are impeding snow removal by the Street Department.
If this is your vehicle, please move your vehicle. We’d prefer not to tow any vehicles if we don’t have to.
For the latest updates from the LPD, follow them on Facebook.