SAWMILL, Ariz. — Over the past week of winter storm activity, Navajo Nation program staff and county personnel have been performing outreach to chapter residents and ensuring they are prepared for winter storm activity.
As part of outreach efforts, the group uses technology and heavy equipment to establish situational awareness for the teams and access for snowed-in parts of the Defiance Plateau.
In the Sawmill Chapter area, Chief of Staff Patrick J. Sandoval and Executive Staff Assistant Larry Price traveled by snowcat to local homes.
“The need was hay, water and food,” said Price. He said chapter personnel were also able to deliver diapers and baby formula to residents blocked-in by snowdrifts.
Sandoval said crews have been delivering about $80 dollars worth of provisions at a time to those who needed it.
Provisions typically include bottled water, food packages, firewood and other essential toiletries.
Using aerial drones with cameras that can live stream video to crews, response teams are able to find residents with no visible tire tracks leading away from their homes. That can be an indicator that they are snowed-in.
Crews can then initiate outreach to these residents for wellness checks and other needs.
In one case, heavy equipment crews had cleared a main access road to one resident’s house, Price said. When he spoke to the resident, they indicated their propane for cooking and heating was about to run out and that they only needed snow to be cleared to their propane tanks.
Price said the resident called NDOT and a path had been cleared that day for a propane truck to service their tank.
“They were very thankful,” he said.