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Coloradans Begin to Thaw After Blizzard

March 22, 2003

DENVER (AP) _ Shovels scraping sidewalks, the trickling of snow melting off roofs, and the sound of footsteps through slush could be heard across the city Friday as it recovered from Colorado’s worst blizzard in 90 years.

At the airport, thousands stood in line for coveted boarding passes for crowded planes that were leaving every minute.

The storm, which began Tuesday, dropped up to 11 feet of snow over a swath of nearly 500 miles in Colorado and southern Wyoming.

At least six people died, including a skier who was caught Thursday in an avalanche near Keystone.

Garbage trucks hauled away mounds of snow and broken tree limbs in Denver on Friday. Businesses and schools reopened, but many residents were forced to remain home because streets packed with drifts made passage nearly impossible.

West of Denver in the foothill towns, where up to 11 feet of snow fell, officials were requesting crews, plows and snowmobiles from the governor’s office to help clear the roads.

Derik Larson, a resident of Conifer, a mountain town about 20 miles southwest of Denver, said his Jeep Cherokee was still buried under mounds of snow.

``The snow is as high as the edge of the roof,″ said Larson, 25. ``It took about four hours to plow the snow off the roof. It was up to my shoulders when I was up on the roof.″

About 1,500 travelers spent the night at the Denver airport, and hundreds more arrived Friday in hopes of catching flights, airport spokeswoman Sally Covington said.

``You can’t keep people alive with 6-year-old Rice Krispy treats and a couple of blankets,″ said Thomas Collins, 38, a cruise ship chef who was wearing the same T-shirt he put on Monday when he flew out of Maui, Hawaii, and who spent days on an airport cot.

``We reached the limits of our technology at about midnight Tuesday,″ said Amy Bourgeron, assistant airport manager. ``We did everything we possibly could to keep the airport opened and to help keep passengers comfortable, but how do you prepare for the storm of the century?″

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On the Net:

Colorado Avalanche Information Center: http://geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche

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