By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
City, county and state officials say they are prepared for today’s changing weather and stranded motorists – if this weekend’s storm should force motorists off of I-40, again.
On New Year’s weekend, 7,500 motorists and truckers sought refuge in Tucumcari when a snow storm caused the closure of I-40.
On Friday, officials said they have alerted shelter personnel that they may be called on again.
From Logan to Tucumcari, authorities said they have personnel standing by, if needed, and supplies and equipment have been readied for use.
“We are ready to set up a shelter for stranded motorists if the roads close due to the weather,” said Bob Gore officer in charge with the Logan Police Department. “We have restocked the supplies we need and can have the shelter up and running in an hour.”
Sgt., Rigo Chavarria of the New Mexico State Police, said, “We will have additional units to patrol rural roads. We will be staying in contact with other law enforcement agencies such as Dalhart, San Jon, Logan, Amarillo and Albuquerque.
“We will also be working with the radio stations to keep motorists updated,” said Chavarria.
“The last time we had a lot of people stranded on rural roads like 209 and 104 and officers went out to help them. We will work with the other agencies in order to prevent too many stranded motorists from being in one area. If we or they need to close a road because there is nowhere to stay or if there is a lack of resource, we will keep the radio stations updated with information in regards to the road closure conditions and alternate routes available. We advise people to watch the television, listen to the radio and access the Internet about the weather conditions before they plan to travel.”
Emergency Manager and Tucumcari Fire Department Chief Mike Cherry said, “The shelters are ready to be set up if needed. We have a list of volunteers to call out if the need should arise.”
Scott Simpson, city recreation director, said, “The recreation center is ready to be used as a shelter if needed.”
“We will be in constant contact with the New Mexico State Police and city police,” said Quay County Sheriff Joe Schallert. “We have a full crew ready to help out where we are needed.”
“If extra help is needed, we have a list of officers to call out during this weekend,” said Mary Lou Ciolli, executive secretary to Tucumcari Police Chief Larry Ham. “The officers did an amazing job last time the weather turned bad and they are ready to do what they can once again.”
“All of our units are ready to go,” said Tony Garcia, Tucumcari’s supervisor with the New Mexico Department of Transportation. “We have set up message boards on I-40 to keep drivers updated on the road conditions. We also have a crew out of Las Vegas here to help us if needed.”