Tiny Colorado Town Doubles Its Population Of 700 After Rescuing Drivers Stranded In Snowstorm

Nobody likes being stranded in the middle of their travels, but one small Colorado town made the experience a whole lot easier for hundreds of people this past Thanksgiving.

Fairplay, Colorado, a tiny town of 762, sheltered over 700 people this past weekend.

When high winds, blowing snow, and low visibility made travel impossible after Thanksgiving, the people of Fairplay made sure their weary travelers had a place to go. The town sheltered 300 people Friday night and 446 people Saturday night, according to Gene Stanley, director of emergency management for Park County, CO.

“Words don’t even describe what this small group of volunteers pulled off here,” said Dave Kintz, chairman of the South Park Salvation Army.

The local hotels quickly booked up, so managers let guests sleep in the hallways and lobbies. Dee Patel, a manager at A Riverside Inn, passed out hot chocolate and blankets to her stranded guests. “I cannot say no,” she said. “A lot of people had little babies and kids with them.”

The county’s community center is designed for 50 people, but 112 people stayed there Saturday night. When the power went out there, everyone moved to South Park High School. But no matter what, everyone had a warm place to sleep and enough food thanks to community churches and volunteers who brought food from their own homes.

“I’m just so proud of my little community,” Kintz said. “For the horrible situation we found ourselves in, to be able to help all those people is amazing to me.”

Kintz has never seen so many stranded travelers at one time in his 17-year tenure in emergency services. He believes people were not warned of the poor road conditions and interstate closures. So when they were rerouted through Fairplay, they didn’t realize they wouldn’t be able leave.

By Sunday, much of the bad weather cleared up, and travelers were able to continue on their way.

Sarah Halle Corey

Written by Sarah Halle Corey