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Residents trapped by snow drifts finally leave their homes

For the first time in a week, drivers could finally clear roads along most of Highway 27.
Credit: KREM

LATAH, Wash. — For the first time in a week, drivers could finally clear roads along most of Highway 27.

You may remember several sections of the highway south of Spokane was closed because of massive snow drifts. Some nearly, 20 feet high and residents can now safely leave their homes.

Since February 28th, the Washington State Department of Transportation closed SR 27 from Waverly to Tekoa.  

The combination of record snow fall and high winds changed the landscape of Pauline Ross's Latah home.

"They're taller than your car, it's like driving through a tunnel and it's on both sides and down to one lane,” Ross said.

The whiteout conditions and iced over roads made it unsafe to drive. In some areas, not even emergency personnel could reach rural areas.

"Once you get passed that viaduct, it's a completely different world. The wind doesn't really break out here,” explained Ross.

Snow drifts towered over roads and trapped families from leaving their homes. The Ross family could not leave their home for five days.

"We play a lot of video games, board games and just kind of hunker in and stay as warm as we can,” said Ross.

The relentless winds have kept DOT crews busy too, they've worked around the clock to clear the roads, but in some areas the drifts were so high not even their plows could make it through.

"When we started out here, you couldn't find the road,” said Dan Haupt, director of the area’s DOT plowing team.

RELATED: Highway 27 reopens after weeks of closures

No access meant little to no access to food and many people couldn't get to work.

While, the community waited for the roads to re-open, Ross said the community banded together.

"If somebody is lacking something, we get it to them as best we can, we have snowmobiles, tractors with blowers on them,” Ross said.

DOT crews are still working their way through Tekoa. In the meantime, Ross and her neighbors are anxiously waiting for the snow to go away.

"I've been able to water my chickens with the hose until now and then February hit and it hasn't stopped,” said Ross.

Until then, residents say now that the roads are clear, they're stocking up on supplies in case another storm comes through.