EDITORIAL: ‘Snow Samaritans’ step up to help in winter storm

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Sometimes Wyoming’s worst conditions bring out the best in the people who live here.

Winter weather arrived with a wallop last week, pounding the area with bitterly cold temperatures, drifting snow and ice-covered roads.

Unfortunately, this was the storm that kept on giving — long after the snow stopped falling, high winds continued to create blizzard-like conditions in areas of Park County. Wyomingites are used to rough weather, but this storm was particularly harsh.

While locals did not welcome the snowstorm, many rose up to face its challenges.

As Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston put it, “This is Wyoming. People figure out how to get the things done; they just do it.”

Neighbors braved subzero temperatures to shovel driveways and sidewalks. Passersby stopped to lend a hand to drivers who slid off the road or got stuck in drifts. Residents stepped forward to serve one another in so many ways, whether it was coming to the rescue of snowed-in South Fork folks or assisting a next-door neighbor with frozen pipes. People even went out of their way to help strangers, posting on social media with offers to help anyone in need.

While Powell was spared from the brunt of last week’s storm, we saw numerous acts of kindness here. Police officers went from sidewalk to sidewalk, shoveling snow from residents’ walkways.

State, city and county crews put in long hours to clear icy roadways. Local tow truck companies, plumbers and other businesses also worked hard to assist those in need amid the subzero temperatures.

The weather was especially frightful on Chief Joseph Highway on Saturday night, where three WYDOT snow plows and a wrecker got stuck while working to clear drifts. The plow and wrecker drivers spent all night on the highway; they stayed in their trucks to keep warm in the plunging wind chills until being rescued by another wrecker.

As cold temps and high winds persisted Monday, emergency responders came to the aid of a hunter in the Heart Mountain area who was experiencing chest pain. The rescue effort involved snowmobiles, a county road grader, a tractor and a helicopter, in addition to the ambulance and fire crews.

We cannot express enough gratitude for the men and women who drop whatever they’re doing — often leaving their families or work — to respond to emergencies, even in severe winter storms. Our county is well served by local law enforcement officers, EMTs, firemen and other first responders all through the year.

As Christmas arrives with more snow and subzero temperatures in the forecast, the last few weeks in December will go down as some of the harshest in memory. But we’re grateful for the warm spirit of the people who live here and make Wyoming winters much more bearable.

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