At 09:30 on March 13th, 2019 Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery paged out its SAR-ES team to standby for possible deployment to assist local resources with stranded motorists and critical personnel transport. Over 20 members fueled and geared up, ready for deployment. Two mission leaders were identified, one to handle coordination and logistics for transporting hospital and other critical infrastructure workers to and from work in the Denver metro area and another to plan and coordinate a possible response for stranded motorists on the eastern plains. At 14:38, Co4x4RnR received a resource request through WebEOC from the NE Regional Field Manager to assist with stranded motorists. Response times from the Denver metro area took time due to conditions where teams fought heavy winds and near zero visibility during their response. Luckily, highways were closed to the public which made the response much safer. However, over 20 stranded vehicles were checked and cleared along the route. At 19:44, teams began arriving at the Fort Morgan Police Department for staging. 3 teams were sent to Morgan, while another 3 team and additional volunteers were still enroute to Sterling where an ESF-9 Search and Rescue Regional Operations Center was stood up. At 21:00, a conference call with all NE region OEM’s, the state EOC, NWS, and local LE agencies was held to gain situational awareness across the region. At approximately 22:00, teams 3 teams began operations from the Morgan PD. Operating under Morgan County Sheriff, these teams rescued 9 people from 5 stranded vehicles in the overnight and morning hours of March 13th and 14th. At approximately 07:00, a fourth team from Sterling was sent to Washington County for a vehicle which had stopped running while stuck overnight, leaving the 2 occupants facing extremely cold conditions. The team reached the vehicle at approximately 08:30. Team 4 performed two additional vehicle rescues with a total of 3 occupants. A final rescue of 2 occupants by Team 3 in Morgan County was made before all Co4x4RnR resources were demobilized mid-morning after multiple vehicles were cleared during egress from the area.
In total, 9 missions were performed over 11 hours with 14 people transported or helped back to safety.
Back in the front range, 6 critical hospital personnel were transported to their place of employment for 2 hospitals. These missions ranged from Clear Creek County, to Larimer County. Teams performing these missions faced very difficult conditions due to heavy and blowing snow and countless abandoned vehicles. Coming just less than 1 year after our last response to the NE Region for a blizzard, we again wish to thank the Northeast Colorado Emergency Managers for their trust, confidence, and the part they played in bringing our resources to the counties we served. It is our pleasure to assist the community in times of need and we look forward to future collaboration. Story, information, and photos provided by Colorado 4×4 Rescue and Recovery.
If you interested in joining our team of volunteers, we encourage you to visit www.co4x4rnr.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.