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Snow emergency declared in Costilla County

Many roads under several feet of snow

Snow Emergency Declared in Costilla County

SOUTHERN COLORADO - A southern Colorado county is seeing more snow this winter than it's had in 30 years.

It's happening in Costilla County, east of Alamosa, and authorities have declared a state of emergency there.

It isn't just one storm that's caused this situation; it's a series of storms that have dumped snow nearly every day since before Christmas.

In fact, authorities say this is the first break in the snow they've had. The snow has overwhelmed the county's ability to clean things up.

"Yesterday morning, we had a squall come through, where it must have come down 2 to 3 inches an hour, and that's when we saw we can't keep up without some outside help," said Ben Doon, Command Post Chief.

Doon said many roads are under 2 to 4 feet of snow and drifts as high as 10 feet are common.

Help has arrived from the Colorado Department of Transportation and two neighboring counties, Alamosa and Conejos. They're using heavier equipment to at least keep the main roads clear.

In the meantime, authorities are sending crews on snowmobiles to homeowners in the county, checking to see if they need help or to be evacuated.

As of Wednesday afternoon, three families had been evacuated to a community center in Fort Garland where a Red Cross shelter has been set up, but only the Burke family spent the night there.

"We have pets and everything but dad's at home with them," said mother Adri Burke.  "He's struck at home.  We're here, he's there.  We came in to school and work on Monday, and haven't been able to go home since."

Schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be closed again Thursday. Authorities said they may not have roads cleared until the weekend.

State resources also have arrived in Dolores County in southwestern Colorado to deal with heavy snow there.

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