White Christmas no dream for eastern chapters

(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

Leah Delgarito, 7, from Thoreau, prepares to throw her snowball at one of her brothers Tuesday at their home.

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

DURANGO, Colo., Dec. 22, 2011

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero

Brothers Luscilliano Delgarito, 8, left, Josh Delgarito, 10, middle, and little sister Leah Delgarito, 7, all from Thoreau, have a snowball fight by their snowman Tuesday. )

A white Christmas is shaping up to be more of a nightmare than a dream for the far eastern edge of the Navajo Nation, where communities were digging out from up to 16 inches of snow this week.

Wynona Benally of Navajo Nation's Emergency Management office said her office had received few calls for help from the snowed-in chapters, but chapter officials said that's because the isolated chapters of New Mexico's checkerboard, some hours away from Window Rock, are used to relying on their own resources.

"We're so out-here, we don't expect much help from the main reservation," said a chapter employee in Tóhajiilee, who declined to give her name. "Pretty much we've been handling it on our own."

Baca-Prewitt Chapter did call upon Emergency Management's Crownpoint office for help delivering food and medicine to 15 stranded families, said Tina Becenti, the chapter's accounts management specialist.

That chapter was the hardest hit with more than two feet of snow falling within a 24-hour period Monday and Tuesday.

Thoreau Chapter President Valerie Yazzie said the chapter has its own heavy equipment on hand for such emergencies, and Wednesday the crews were out clearing the roads.

Yazzie said about 10 inches blanketed the area between Coolidge and San Antonio Springs and she was surprised to hear that nearby Gallup had hardly any snow.

Rachel Billy, community services coordinator in Smith Lake Chapter, said her area only got about five inches, but with few paved roads it was enough to strand some families.

"We're checking on people and so far everyone's OK," she said Wednesday. "We've got our grader and backhoe out there."

The National Weather Service is predicting more snow today for the area between Gallup and Grants, tapering off Friday. Christmas weekend is forecast to be clear and sunny, with highs in the upper 30s.

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