ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Crews worked to clear snow-covered roads Tuesday after a record winter storm trapped a New Mexico couple in a 12-foot 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 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 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 outside of town.
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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 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.”
Meanwhile, staff at the Clovis News 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 Sunday. “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 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 Sunday while shoveling snow outside city limits, and a man was found dead buried in snow Tuesday, police spokesman Todd Wildermuth said. The men haven’t been identified.
Four newspapers did not publish Tuesday editions because of the snowstorm that made traveling 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.”