Locals hit the road to help clear roads | VailDaily.com

Locals hit the road to help clear roads

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO Colorado
Chris McLean/AP Photo,The Pueblo ChieftainCows run from a helicopter about 15 miles southeast of Lamar, Colo., on Tuesday. The Colorado National Guard fed thousands of head of cattle dropping hay from a UH-1 helicopter.

EAGLE COUNTY ” Bill Kennedy had to leave home to find really deep snow.

Kennedy, a volunteer with the Eagle-based Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, is about 380 miles away in Springfield, Colo., helping the residents of Baca County dig out from a massive blizzard that hit southeastern Colorado late last week.

That storm closed roads with snowdrifts more than 10 feet deep. It stranded motorists and isolated thousands of cattle from food and water.

Kennedy said he believes he’s going to be put to work organizing snow removal crews. “But I could run a front-end loader if I had to,” he said.

Kennedy is part of a nine-member team of firefighters and emergency managers from northwestern Colorado headed to Baca County.

That team has trained for various emergencies including bad weather, hazardous material spills and wildfires for the past few years. But, Kennedy said, this is the first time he knows of that the team has been asked for help.

Eagle County Emergency Manager Barry Smith said the team from northwestern Colorado will help provide food ” primarily “meals ready to eat” from the military ” to ranchers who still can’t get out. They’ll also help get hay to stranded cattle. And, Smith said, there’s a leaking oil well to attend to.

Kennedy and Smith are both taking time from their regular jobs, Kennedy with Vail Resorts and Smith with the county.

And they’re traveling light.

“We’re only bringing enough to sustain ourselves,” Smith said. “Everything else is coming in from somewhere else.”

The crew from northwest Colorado could be gone through the weekend.

Where: Colorado’s southeast corner

Size: 2,557 square miles

2000 population: 4,517

Major industry: ranching

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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