New Mexico works to unbury after record snow storm

December 30, 2015 10:30 pm

 

Jimmy and Betty Anderson were buried in their Ford Fusion. Photo / AP

Crews worked to clear snow-covered roads after a record winter storm
trapped a New Mexico couple in a 12-foot (3.6 metre) snow drift for
almost 20 hours, forced four newspapers to suspend publication and
prompted authorities to deliver a baby in a snowbound Texas home.
The cleanup continued throughout southeastern New Mexico two days after the region saw more than a foot (30cm) of snow.
Some
city and county offices began opening, though authorities cautioned
motorists about traveling in freezing temperatures amid abandoned
vehicles.
Near Clovis, a couple delivering newspapers Saturday
night (local time) tried to make it through the snowstorm but ended up
trapped just miles from their home. They were caught in whiteout
conditions as wind pushed their vehicle off the road about 2 miles
(3.2kms) outside of town.

Betty Anderson said she and her husband Jimmy spent the night
talking in their vehicle and sending messages via Facebook telling
friends and family members they needed help.
The storm was so
severe, however, that rescue crews couldn’t reach the couple as they sat
in their vehicle buried by a 12-foot (3.6 metre) snow drift.
“We’d
fall asleep for five or 10 minutes and then wake up and say, ‘Hey are
you OK?'” Betty Anderson said. “We just tried to keep each other
talking.”

The couple were rescued after spending 20 hours trapped. Photo / AP
The couple were rescued after spending 20 hours trapped. Photo / AP
Meanwhile, staff at the Clovis Journal – the newspaper
the Andersons had been delivering – grew anxious as the hours passed.
Robert Langrell, the publisher, described waiting for updates from
authorities and the Andersons, who tried to preserve their cellphone
batteries after their car died.
“Anytime two hours passed without
an update, it made your mind race in all kinds of different
directions,” Langrell said. “You’re very hopeful the entire time, but
they were in extreme danger. We knew that.”
Ty Gonser, of Ray Lee Equipment in Clovis, was using his tractor to aid people when he found the couple.
“I
saw a weird-looking snow mound with blue-ish color so I just started
digging,” said Gonser, who rescued 13 stranded motorists. “I reach a
windshield and I saw the lady.”
Gonser, 31, pulled Betty Anderson out first, and she hugged him.
“We
all got in the tractor and we got really close to stay warm,” Gonser
said. “I drove them about 7 miles (11kms) to a city building.”
The
snow may have led to two deaths in the Roswell area. A man in his late
60s died of a heart attack Monday while shoveling snow outside city
limits, and a man was found dead buried in snow Wednesday, police
spokesman Todd Wildermuth said. The men haven’t been identified.
Four
newspapers did not publish Tuesday editions because of the snowstorm
that made travelling almost impossible. The Clovis News Journal,
Portales News-Tribune, Roswell Daily Record and Hobbs News-Sun did not
publish print editions. All four posted stories online.
In
Farwell, Texas, across the state border from Clovis, Police Chief Larry
Kelsay and two paramedics helped deliver a baby in a snow-covered home.
Kelsay
said he received a call around 1 a.m. Monday from a woman who was about
to give birth. The town doesn’t have a hospital and roads were closed.
Kelsay
called paramedic Weldon Kube and drove him to the home. A second
paramedic, Craig Giesbrecht, joined them. The baby was born about 3:30
a.m.
“It was an easy birth,” Kelsay told the Clovis News Journal. “Everything went fine. No complications.”

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