EASTERN PLAINS, Colo. — A perfect example of the urban-rural divide — that’s what some lawmakers in rural Colorado are calling Gov. Jared Polis’ disaster declaration during this cold snap.
Although, the state says it isn't leaving Colorado’s ranchers high and dry.
“Why does it take a weather snap to hit the Front Range for us to declare an emergency?” asked Ty Winter, the Republican Representative for House District 47.
As a voice for nine counties in Southeastern Colorado, Winter said he and three other rural lawmakers wrote a letter to Polis, calling on him to support rural Coloradans as much as the Denver metro.
“Most of the time at the State Capitol, rural Colorado ends up with the short end of the stick. And it's unfortunate,” said Winter.
Winter said Thursday's verbal disaster declaration ahead of the bitter cold arriving to the Front Range prompted him to pen the letter.
In the letter, Winter wrote over, "the last 10 days the Eastern Plains in Colorado have endured severe weather and blizzard conditions," telling Denver7 he took issue with the fact no emergency declaration was ever made for the Eastern Plains during that time when he said, “Colorado’s farmers, livestock producers and rural families were faced with single-digit, below-zero temperatures, and other life-threatening conditions."
Athena Johnson who lives in Bennett said there's a perception this community takes care of its own.
“Well if you've gotten out here, and there's no bus system or anything like that, you can probably figure out the rest,” said Johnson.
In response, a spokesperson for the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management told Denver7 the Governor's disaster declaration "covers impacted areas across the whole state" and by no means leaves out the Eastern Plains.
That spokesperson added Polis’ order allows the state to support local governments that request help for their existing shelters. As of Friday morning, no community on the Eastern Plains had requested support.
Nonetheless, Rep. Winter is urging the state to be more proactive with rural communities, which are dealing with staffing shortages and limited shelter space.
“When it comes to cold weather and human lives, this is one thing that should not be a political football. This should be something that we should all be able to agree on,” said Winter.