By Jamie Leary

SIMLA, Colo. (CBS4) – Rural areas hit hard by Colorado’s March blizzard were preparing for round two Wednesday. While the storm didn’t initially pack the same punch, the small town of Simla wasn’t taking any chances.

(credit: CBS)

“Simla is a small town. A lot, a lot of beef in this part of the woods. A lot of ranchers. We had a lot of loss with our last blizzard in March,” said Mayor Rick Stagmeyer.

Wednesday, the Simla mayor was the only one manning the shelter.

“We have food, we have cots, we have blankets. We have power… right now.”

Arby’s also donated 75 sandwiches. Stagmeyer says he is committed to spending the night just in case the snow picks up and drivers need shelter.

(credit: CBS)

“This is just another part of life in Colorado,” he said.

Across the street, the Simla Fire Department was keeping an eye on the weather.

“The last storm, we were here almost I think 40 some hours straight,” said Fire Chief Jim Hauschildt.

Like many, Simla Fire learned a lot from the bomb cyclone.

“Just trying to be better prepared with backup power at the station at least, working with the town getting shelter setup at the police station,” said Hauschildt.

The learning curve in Simla is a bit steeper. The fire department is all volunteers with 550 square miles to cover.

(credit: CBS)

Including the chief, there are about four volunteers on staff with one full-time paid employee. It’s not always enough, but Wednesday, there were at least five on standby for the storm.

“We just try to get as many people to come to town and hang out at the station with us as we can, but again it’s just volunteer and they have families at home and they want to stay there.”

The fire station operates on an annual budget of around $140,000 which Hauschildt says is becoming increasingly difficult to work with.

“We need more money to start staffing the station. Our call volume, you know, our calls have been going up about 25 to 30 calls a year for the last three years,” said Hauschildt.

Hauschildt has worked for Simla Fire since he was 18-years-old. While the March blizzard was the worst storm he’s experienced, he knows how to prepare going forward.

“I think the last one was an eyeopener for a lot of people.”

Jamie Leary


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