Editorial: Have you thanked a plow driver?
When a snow storm blows through the Yampa Valley, inundating much of Moffat County, those of us who live in the Craig city limits have it pretty darn good.
While most residents were sleeping in their warm beds March 13, oblivious to the frigid, 15-foot-deep blanket that — to this day — coats much of the landscape outside town, snow plow crews with Moffat County and Colorado Department of Transportation were hard at work trying to break through the white wall isolating our beautiful town from the rest of the outside world.
A picture posted on social media by Dan Miller, the county's road and bridge director, confirmed what many of us already knew — those of us who live outside the city were buried, and some still are.
Miller and his crew of plow trucks and motor graders aren't invincible. They were forced to stop their attempts to beat back the snow March 13 after blizzard conditions reduced visibility to nearly zero. Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume activated the county's emergency operations center and said wind was the most significant risk factor for maintenance personnel still working in the elements.
"It’s unsafe for those crews to be out," Hume said March 13. As a result of Hume's and Miller's actions, no one on Moffat County's plow crew was injured — though some vehicles became stuck in the snow — but the fact remains; snow plow drivers risk their lives to make our lives easier.
The day following the March 13 blizzard was beautiful — sunny skies prevailed as kids walked about Craig enjoying a rare snow day. Some might rush to judge Moffat County School District for canceling school a day too late. The reality is the school district canceled school on the correct day because the roads were not safe for school buses. Can you imagine a bus full of our kids getting stuck — or worse — after trying in vain to navigate Moffat County's frigid and isolated county roads a day after a major blizzard?
All it took was one more day for Miller and his crews to knock back enough snow to open the major arterial roadways so most kids could get back to school before spring break.
"The crews did all the work. I just sat in my office and looked pretty," Miller said jokingly Tuesday before acknowledging he did personally take quite a number of calls.
"I did get 150 calls Monday on my cellphone," he said.
You read that right. Moffat County residents can pick up the phone and call the county road and bridge department, and someone — maybe even the head honcho himself — will come dig you out with a heavy piece of machinery.
As one of the largest counties in Colorado, our wide open spaces make for scenic recreation, peace, and quiet. But with those wide open spaces come challenges posed by mother nature, and we all must face them. There are several thousand of miles worth of road in Moffat County. That's why we offer our heartfelt thanks to the plow crews for all their hard work in dangerous conditions during Moffat County's storm. We must also remember to have patience with such crews and know that, once they get a call from a stranded Moffat County resident, rancher, or visitor, help is on the way.
It took city, county, and state crews a little less than a week to open up Moffat County's roads after mother nature utterly buried them. That's pretty incredible, so from the bottom of our hearts — thank you.