HOLBROOK, AZ – a scheduled air mission for isolated areas around the Kayenta and Black Mesa area was conducted by the National Guard yesterday delivering emergency food and water supplies to residents in the far remote areas in northern Navajo County. These residents have been severely affected by the stormthat hit Northeastern Arizona nearly one week ago. “It is amazing to see how hard the people were hit by the storm, because the farther we flew the more snow there was. The vastness of the land is very apparent,” Navajo County’s Sheriff, KC Clark stated in reflection.
The National Guard piloted the Blackhawk that Sheriff Clark and Navajo County District I Supervisor Jonathan Nez rode in during the mission. The mission was successful as supplies were successfully dropped to families in several isolated areas along and around the Black Mesa ridge. Black Mesa is approximately 30 miles north of Pinon. Supervisor Nez pointed out the last 18 miles to Black Mesa is dirt road. They were able to view the impact of the large amount of precipitation along with the snow has saturated the clay infused dirt roads causing worsening roadway conditions. Nez explained the only way to get supplies and medical help to the residents is by air or in the early morning hours when the clay mud is frozen.
Both Sheriff Clar and Supervisor Nez were inspired at the people’s ability to be resourceful in spite of the severe snow storm. “We were flying and then the pilot saw a reflection signal coming from a mirror, as we turned back, we then saw a family with children waving their arms in the universal sign of distress.” The pilot located a safe place to land the plane so we could inquire about their needs. The family was housebound from the high levels of snow and had run out of food and water with one adult family member was on home dialysis.
From the start of Operation Winter Storm, all agencies involved raised concern for dialysis patients since the storm grounds many families from being able to attend their Wednesday appointment. Failing to receive treatment can cause a person to go into shock and could lead to death. Sheriff Clark stressed, “Time is of the essence. They are already nearly a week overdue with their dialysis treatments. If we do not get supplies and medicine to the people now the mission will be more costly and may have devastating results.”
“I am proud of my people as they are resourceful in finding ways to provide assistance for themselves and their neighbors,” Supervisor Nez stated when telling of a family they came upon during this air mission who had dug through approximately one mile of snow in an attempt to get help; unfortunately, they still had about three more miles to go before getting to a main road. Supervisor Nez, along with Board of Supervisors Chairman Jesse Thompson request that any need for assistance as a result of this storm and the upcoming storm sould be relayed to the Navajo Nation Emergency Management at 928 871-6892 or -6894.
The entire region is thankful for the State assistance, including the incident management team and the National Guard, being provided during this emergency, as a result of the recent State of Emergency declared by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Sheriff Clark said residents can get the latest information about emegency efforts by calling the Emergency Management Hotline at 928 524-4200, Option 3. Weather and other emergency services information is also available on the Navajo County website at www.navajocountyaz.gov or on the Arizona Emergency Information Network at www.azein.gov.