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Residents urged inside after blowing snow prompts state of emergency

VIEW SLIDESHOW PARK COUNTY- The director of Emergency Management for Park County says search and rescue teams from neighboring counties have been called in to assist with rescuing any Park County residents stranded because of snow.

Highway 285 was closed for much of the day Mondaybecause of the snow and windy conditions. Authorities decided to close it down after they saw three rollover accidents and three cars slide off the road. The highway has since re-opened.

"The roads are icy and there's places where the wind's blowing across and you can't hardly see past the hood," said Bob Fredrickson, a Conifer resident.

As for accumulation, Roll says it is difficult to tell because of the blowing snow, but he says there are 25-foot drifts in some areas.

He says all of the county's resources – 16 graders with plows and wings, seven loaders and seven dump trucks - have been out on the road, but every time the plows make progress, the wind blows the snow back over the areas that were just plowed. The equipment was brought in for the night around 6 p.m. Monday for maintenance.

On Monday, Park County declared a state of emergency because of windsin excess of 110 mph winds, and so the county could get help from neighboring counties. Roll says the county hopes to have an additional five to 10 snow plows from neighboring counties Tuesday.

Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener says the crews are trying to keep up, but they have not stopped working and are getting overwhelmed.

"We just don't have the resources," said Wegner. "They need to take a break."

Roll says the biggest priority is finding anyone who may be stranded or stuck in their homes. Fire and emergency personnel estimate that about 100 people are blocked by snow, primarily in the Hartsel and Jefferson areas. Those with snow-related emergencies are asked to call the emergency hotline at 719-836-4160.

"They've been in their homes now for upwards of 10 days, things are starting to run low," said Wegener.

A shelter has been set up at the Fairplay Recreation Center for stranded travelers and people evacuated from their homes. Search and rescue teams in Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties have committed to helping in the search for stranded residents starting Tuesday.

The American Red Cross is sending a Disaster Action Team to help the people who are being forced into shelters.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is maintaining state highways through Park County. Despite the snow, all state and federal highways through Park County remained open Monday.

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