By Russell Anglin: Freedom New Mexico
Last Sunday was an awfully strange day.
It started for me at 10 a.m. with the phone waking me up. My editor called and asked me if I had electricity. With my eyes still hazy and without my wits about me, I replied, “Um … I don’t know.”
Turns out I didn’t. I threw on my boots and jeans and drove to the office to grab my camera, hoping to get to the source of the outage. I was headed to Forrest to take pictures.
Or was I? I pulled into the Circle K on the south side of Tucumcari to get some gas. Alas, gas stations are powered by electricity. I was going to have to wait for my colleague, Thomas Garcia, to pick me up as I reported what I could via phone and text.
I must admit it was a little amusing to see person after person walk up to the convenience store doors and tug a couple of times before reading the sign informing them of the power outage and asking “is the power out?” Yes, I would respond. The power is out. Bless their hearts. They only wanted to make sure.
A few travelers became worried after a couple of hours waiting while others had enough gas to get to San Jon. I gave directions to a few of them and tried to be helpful and offer what little news I knew then. When everybody heard about the blackouts in Santa Rosa, we started wondering if things would get worse before they got better.
Eventually Thomas escorted me to Forrest where we met Monika and Alyxis Garrett. They were holding down the fort at the fire department while their husbands fought fire. They clued us in to what exactly was going on out there and mentioned a number of businesses who donated food for the firefighters. They were very grateful for everybody’s help and asked to me mention that in the paper. I don’t want to name names in fear of leaving somebody out, but y’all know who you are.
We took a few pictures of the smoldering smoke coming from the south and decided to cut through San Jon to get cell coverage earlier, so I got to see the vast Caprock for the first time, which was pretty impressive. Our trip was delayed, though, when we ran into another fire.
It was then that I gained a better understanding of what it means to be a firefighter in Quay County, especially in this summer climate. As a reporter, I fancy myself as always on call to report a situation, but if no firefighters were on call this weekend, the entire county and all of us would probably be lost to fire by now.
So I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say thanks to all the firefighters out there. You are an invaluable resource. Now if we could just get a rainmaker or two to move here we’d be in great shape.