DENVER -- Utility crews struggled to restore electrical service to tens of thousands of homes and businesses as grocery store shelves in southeastern Colorado went bare and hungry cattle grew isolated following a blizzard that dumped nearly 3 feet of snow and piled some of it in drifts 15 feet high.

Authorities were preparing Tuesday to bring in groceries in Humvees and drop hay bales from the air. Civil Air Patrol planes flew over the snow-covered plains Monday, some using infrared heat-sensing equipment to help crews spot animals in case they needed food.

Hay could be delivered to the herds using C-130 airplanes or military helicopters along with snowmobiles, said Polly White of the state Division of Emergency Management.

"It's kind of like 1997," she said, referring to the blizzard that killed up to 30,000 head of livestock, costing farmers and ranchers an estimated $28 million.

Planes also flew over parts of Colorado and Kansas Monday to look for snowbound travelers.

Nearly 3,000 people near the southeastern Colorado towns of Lamar and Walsh were without power because power lines were knocked down in the storm, she said.

The roof of an assisted living center in Walsh collapsed but there were no reports of injuries, White said. The center is attached to a nursing home and residents were moved there.

The National Guard used both tracked and wheeled vehicles to help local authorities get emergency supplies like medicine or baby formula to isolated homes, said Col. Hans Kallam. The Guard also helped resupply emergency shelters, where hundreds of people spent the night Sunday.

The number still in shelters by Monday evening wasn't immediately available.

At the Wooten family's ranch in canyon land along the Purgatorie River near the southeastern town of Kim, Steve Wooten and his uncle spent Monday checking on their cattle. They had moved most of their cattle closer to their house but had some that had not been fed since the storm hit Thursday.

Still, after several years of drought, Joy Wooten said she was thankful for the moisture.

"It's kind of hard now but you have to think of the green grass in the spring," she said.
Only a few roads remained closed Monday, five days after the storm began to drop snow in Colorado, and state snowplows and workers were brought in from other areas of Colorado to help finish clearing roads, said Transportation Department spokeswoman Stacey Stegman.

Many of the people in shelters had been rescued from stranded vehicles. The National Guard also evacuated eight people who needed medical treatment, such as dialysis, and transported medicine to ten locations, White said.