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Families still stranded behind muddy roads after storm in San Juan County

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Posted at 9:57 PM, Mar 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-03 23:57:52-05

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah -- Residents in San Juan County continue the fight to clear muddy roads as storms brought more rain and mud Tuesday.

Hundreds of families are still stranded behind those muddy roads. Volunteers are doing what they can to bring food, coal and wood to them, but say the supplies are running low. There’s also an underlying frustration, how to prevent this from happening again.

“If the politicians would come together, and sit at the table together, and figure out how they can solve this problem,” said Monument Valley resident Scott Laws. “Because it’s going to be this way every year, every time inclement weather happens.”

Laws said the issue comes from multiple jurisdictions pointing fingers at each other over who’s responsible for maintaining the rural roads.

County, state and tribal leaders have had conference calls to make sure humanitarian needs are being met. San Juan County Emergency manager Kelly Pehrson told FOX 13 there are over 2,800 miles of rural road just on the Navajo Reservation. They try to keep them clear, but it’s a difficult task.

“We continually try to push these roads but because of the mud, this mud, the heavy equipment is just damaging the roads more than helping them,” Pehrson said.

Residents worked Tuesday to free two graders that had gotten stuck in the mud. Navajo Nation chapter leaders have declared a state of emergency in the area to hopefully open the way toward getting federal funds to help.

In the meantime, volunteers continue to try and help those who can’t get out.

“We’re really concerned for those kids,” said Oljato Monument Valley Community Coordinator Shirlee Bedonie. “Because the parents didn’t make plans to buy food for a week. Now they’re out of school for three weeks.”

Coordinators are urging stranded residents to stay in their homes, and contact the Monument Valley fire station at 435-727-3440 for help getting needed supplies.