Community church in Colorado town houses dozens of stranded travelers

Dec 27, 2021, 11:23 PM

WALDEN, Colo. — Dozens of stranded drivers found themselves with no place to stay in a small town Sunday night.

White out conditions and crashes forced the roads to close near Walden, Colorado – which is about 35 miles from U.S. Highway 40.

Claire Heeb Carrasco and her husband were just two of those drivers. They were heading back to Salt Lake City after visiting family in Denver for Christmas. They had already re-routed because their usual path was also shut down due to impassable roads.

“The mountain passes were really tough and some people sliding off, getting stuck,” Heeb Carrasco described. “It was really scary.”

When they pulled into Walden, Colorado, a town of about 600 people and only a couple of hotels, she quickly found out there was no obvious place with rooms available.

“We checked all the places – no vacancy anywhere,” she said. “And finally, the last place, they said, ‘Oh hey, the Community Church is open.’”

About the same time Heeb Carrasco and her husband got the news they were stranded for the night, Parishioner Ann Carlstrom had gotten a call, too.

“We got a call from the Sheriff’s Department about, oh, four in the afternoon,” Carlstrom told KSL-TV.

It’s a call she has taken before, but not for a few years.

The Sheriff’s office wondered if the church would open for stranded drivers for the night.

Calstrom rushed down to the church to open the doors. Some of those drivers beat her there.

“There were some people already waiting,” she said.

And more came – a lot more.

“I think altogether there were about 80 people,” Calstrom said. “I don’t have an exact count, and about 15 dogs.”

Those 80 people and their dogs likely would have spent the night in their cars.

Heeb Carrasco said she, her husband, and their dogs found a room in the church and hunkered down for the night.

“We were just super grateful that this little town was just so ready and, like, prepared to welcome all of these people,” she said.

As for the Community Church, Carlstrom said they are happy to help.

“It was a really great experience for both sides, and people were just so cooperative and appreciative. (We were) glad to do it. We’ll do it again if the need arises.”

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Community church in Colorado town houses dozens of stranded travelers