Some La Plata County residents were unable to clear their driveways and sidewalks of the 24 to 30 inches of snow that buried parts of Southwest Colorado this week, and many turned to social media sites like Nextdoor and Facebook to seek help from those with the means and the time to lend a hand.
Matthew Bryant of Durango made a post on Nextdoor offering to plow his neighbors’ driveways and was immediately inundated with calls for assistance.
“I literally just started this on Monday, and I’ve been trying to get to as many people as possible,” he said in an interview conducted on Nextdoor. “I’ve lost count how many people have reached out to me. If I was to guess, maybe 40-60 people in less than a week.”
Among those who called Bryant for help were an older couple who had become trapped in their homes by the heavy snowfall.
“I’ve done work for two separate older couples who were in their 80s,” he said. “Yesterday, one of those couples was completely snowed in, and I was able to get them access to their cars/driveway.”
Some residents reached out on social media for help, like a Three Springs resident who goes by “Bet” on Nextdoor. “I’m a senior lady & I need my driveway shoveled!!” she wrote.
Bet, who declined to give her full name when reached by phone, said she has difficulty every winter getting help with snow removal in front of her home.
“I’m in my 70s now, and I can handle about 3 inches of snow,” she said. “If I have to pay to hire someone at the beginning of the season, I don’t want them coming out for 3 inches and charging me $75.”
Bet said she has much more than 3 inches of snow to deal with this week, and that was when she decided to turn to social media for help.
“I was having such a difficult time, and I made my post, and these two guys answered right away, but then it was a little scary when they showed up because now they know I’m an old lady living by myself. Now it’s a big concern,” she said.
Bet believes most residents, especially senior citizens, will overlook the safety issue if there is a desperate need for snow removal.
“I also own another property that needs the roof cleared off,” she said. “Now obviously, I can’t do that either. I finally got someone, but again, it was through social media. I wish there was some other way, you know?”
One non-social media solution posed by city spokesman Tom Sluis, in an email to The Durango Herald, is for those 60 and older living in the immediate Durango area to contact the city’s senior center to get help before the next snowstorm.
“The Durango-La Plata Senior Center is probably the best resource,” he said. “The center offers help through their ‘Home Chore Services’ program, (970) 382-6428, which does include walkway snow removal for a suggested donation.”
Bernice Madril, a spokeswoman for the Home Chore Services program, warns that staff members do not clear roofs.
“We don't have snowplows or snowblowers,” she said. “We have two employees who clear sidewalks and driveways.”
Madril said Durango residents 60 and older can sign up with Home Chore Services for snow removal assistance and recommends giving a donation as a nice gesture for employees’ efforts.
“We encourage a donation of $8 to $15 an hour,” she said.
The Pine River Senior Center in Bayfield also reached out on Nextdoor looking for extra help in assisting senior citizens with snow removal. Representatives of the senior center could not be reached for comment.
Whether using paid help or relying on assistance from neighbors, Colorado residents are required to clear snow from sidewalks by state law.
According to Colorado’s Snow Removal Law, the details of which can be found on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s website, “Residents are responsible for clearing driveways and sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowstorm to allow safe use by pedestrians. This is particularly important along school pedestrian routes to prevent children from having to walk in the street.”
Sluis said residents can adhere to the law by helping each other keep driveways and sidewalks clear during these more difficult winter days.
“While the city does not have dedicated staff to help in these situations, we do encourage community members to be civic-minded when it comes to weather-related events like this,” he said. “We all need to look out for each other. The neighborly thing to do is offer to help clear a few extra feet of sidewalk, or clear the driveway of an elderly person who may need help.”