Over the weekend of March 13-14, Winter Storm Xylia became the 4th largest blizzard recorded in Colorado history. With that excitement came some serious challenges, but Elbert County public services rose to the occasion.
The storm hit the area on Friday afternoon, and by 2 p.m. on Sunday, snow was falling steadily at two inches per hour, with winds blowing at 50-60 miles per hour. At this point, the northwest portion of the county was fully engulfed in the blizzard with visibility at zero feet, prompting road closures and a state of emergency declaration.
Cars were caught on the road beginning on Sunday around 2 p.m. and through the morning hours of Monday until the storm subsided. During this time, Elbert County public works staff worked diligently to rescue stranded motorists and did an impressive job of clearing roadways despite the heavy snowfall.
Several more unusual situations arose over the weekend, and in each case, county public works staff went above and beyond to come to the rescue. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, Elbert Fire requested assistance to get an ambulance to a critical patient. The county responded by sending a motor grader to clear the way. The nearest hospital was outside the county lines, but since no units were available from Douglas County to assist, the Elbert County motor grader willingly escorted the Elbert Fire ambulance all the way to Parker Adventist Hospital and safely back to their firehouse in Elbert.
In another remarkable instance, Elbert County personnel operating a front-end loader escorted Elizabeth Fire to respond to a woman in labor to make sure she was able to reach the hospital without any further delays. Thanks to their combined effort, they made it in time to the hospital, where the baby was safely delivered soon afterward.
Meanwhile, [on Sunday] Elbert County sheriff’s office requested aid to clear the road for an ambulance to reach a patient in a western subdivision who had been in a coma with in-home care for the past 50 days. The patient awoke Sunday morning and needed assistance. Road and bridge personnel were able to get the ambulance to the residence within 10 minutes.
The response from county residents to the public works’ staff tireless efforts was both warm and enthusiastic. “I was in awe of how well everyone worked together and the positive attitudes,” one resident wrote in. “[They] have a great team with great leadership.”
Altogether, Elbert County staff logged over 1,500 hours to ensure residents and visitors to the county were safe and as unimpeded as possible during this historically heavy snowstorm.