By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Three days after a major snowstorm hit southeast Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.
The emergency declaration allows the director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to mobilize state and federal personnel and resources and to help get the state back up and running after the storm that dropped more than 30 inches of snow on some areas.
It also directs the Adjutant General, in consultation with WOHS and Gordon, to deploy, if needed, the Wyoming National Guard to areas of the state that have been identified for emergency assistance.
No Guard members had been activated as of Wednesday morning.
“The scale and intensity of this storm have caused severe impacts to our transportation infrastructure and agriculture producers,” Gordon said. “As the scope of the situation unfolds and with the possibility of flooding as temperatures warm, it’s imperative we make all our resources available to respond to the needs in our communities.”
The snowstorm over the weekend delivered more than 30 inches of wet, heavy snow to southeast Wyoming, closing Interstates 25 and 80, causing power outages and leading to the closure of city, county and state offices and school districts for multiple days.
The impacts of the storm prompted several counties to ask Gordon for the emergency declaration, he said.
While Interstate 25 opened Wednesday morning, Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie remained closed, as did state and city offices in Cheyenne. Many secondary roads in southeastern Wyoming remained closed Wednesday.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins urged patience from residents who were ready to leave their homes after being trapped for days.
“I know that a lot are restless today,” Collins said via videoconference. “We’ve been stuck for three days now and we all want to get out. But our police department would ask you not to get out in your cars and become part of the problem.”
Collins said Interim Fire Chief John Kopper compared the community to a zombie apocalypse, with people walking to supermarkets in the middle of the street because there’s no other place to walk.
“Please be patient,” Collins said. “We’re doing our best and we’re gonna get there, I promise. We’re using everything and every available asset that we have to get the streets cleared, and try to get the city back to normal.”