Taos County, N.M. Declared a Disaster Because of Heavy Snow

February 11, 2008

Many roads in Taos County are impassable because of heavy snow drifts, and state officials said homes and structures are threatened.

Gov. Bill Richardson declared the northern New Mexico county a disaster. The declaration frees up $750,000 in state emergency funds to cover the cost of crews to clear public roads, respond to emergencies, support public services and utilities and related efforts.

“The state’s homeland security and emergency management personnel have been working closely with Taos County officials to assess the situation and moved quickly to make emergency assistance available,” he said.

Rio Arriba County also is under a disaster declaration. The heaviest snow had been reported in the Chama and Tierra Amarilla areas.

Crews focused Thursday on clearing snow-packed roads and widening existing paths on streets for emergency vehicle use.

The New Mexico National Guard was taking calls from residents and providing assistance to those most in need, including the elderly, families with young children and infants, and the disabled.

Meanwhile, county emergency management officials and a number of other agencies collected and distributed food, medicine and other necessities to residents — some of who are stranded.

“A primary area of concern right now is people’s well-being,” said Dwayne Merritt, incident commander of the Rio Arriba County Emergency Management. “We understand that cabin fever and the feeling of being shut in is common in these kinds of situations.”

Merritt encouraged residents to stay busy and keep their minds focused on things other than the weather to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

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