Cold has big costs

By Chelle Delaney: QCS Staff

The tab for the clean up of the snow storm over New Year’s weekend will cost an estimated $150,000, say officials of Quay County and city of Tucumcari.

County road superintendent Larry Moore asked the Quay County Commission to declare the county a disaster for snow removal at their Monday meeting so that the county can get reimbursed from the state for manhours and equipment use.

Moore estimated the county’s cost at about $100,000.
Hardest hit, mainly because of snow drifts, were Wheatland, House, McAlister, Ragland and Forrest, Moore said.

“On State Road 209, we were pulling them out of drifts. Some of them had spent most of the night up there,” Moore said. Motorists tried to travel State Road 209, in all likelihood, to avoid the closed I-40, could not get past the building snow on the road.

The county’s road crews worked 12-hour days, and on the holiday, New Year’s Day, throughout the storm that hit on Friday, Dec. 29, Moore said.

“They should be commended,” said Interim County Manager Wayne Cunningham. “They were up at 3:30 a.m. working to clear the roads. There are a lot of ranchers and farmers up there (on the cap) and they were working to make sure they get through the roads to bring their cattle feed.”

With 1,176 miles of roads to cover in the county, “we put the men under a lot of sterss and strain,” Cunningham said. “I’m proud of them and Quay County ought to be proud of them.

“One piece of equipment got stuck 17 times in one day,” he said. “We’re just lucky we had recently leased two new blades because they were right out in front leading the way.”
Moore had said earlier that some ranchers and farmers, who had the right equipment, could and did make one or two passes across their fields. But after that they needed to depend on their roads.

Despite their efforts, county work crews were also thwarted by high winds building up snow drifts at least five-feet-high that were hard to get the tractors through, Moore said. And it was necessary to put snow chains on the equipment.

Today, Moore and chair of the commission, Franklin McCasland, are to meet in Santa Fe with officials from the state’s Department of Finance Authority and Public Safety to discuss the county’s reimbursement. As well as snow removal costs, another $68,000 is being sought by the county for reimbursement that goes back to July when the county had to repair roads from heavy rains. The county’s request for reimbursement was turned down, but Moore and county commissioners have asked that the county’s request be reviewed.

As the weather has warmed, some sections of the roads are now muddy, and those will have to dry out, Moore said.
City Emergency Manager Mike Cherry said it’s estimated the city’s costs will run between $40,000 and $50,000.
The costs were mainly for personnel in the city’s Streets and Sanitation, police and emergency medical services departments, Cherry said.

Alex Madrid, superintendent for streets and sanitation, said a crew of five worked throughout the weekend to keep the streets cleared of the snow.

Other costs were police overtime so that officers could maintain traffic control and for EMS personnel and vehicles, Cherry said.

Moore estimated that it would take the county until Jan. 15 to have the clean-up completed.

However, that could take longer with another, but not so severe, snowfall predicted for the upcoming weekend.
With snow in the forecast, county and city officials said snow removal equipment has been prepped and positioned to clear streets and roads.