2007-12-20 / Front Page

Town well prepared for major snow storm

By Adrienne Downing

While government agencies across the state were left pointing fingers at each other after the first two major storms of winter blew through the region on Dec. 13 and 15, Jamestowners experienced very little inconvenience because of the preparedness of the town.

Police Chief Thomas Tighe said he feels that island residents took the storm warning seriously and stayed a little closer to home.

Perhaps the most impacted travelers on the island were teachers from the Jamestown schools who had to travel over the bridges to get home. The schools did let out an hour early on Dec. 13 when the snow came earlier than predicted, but some teachers still felt the effects of poor planning elsewhere.

"It took me five hours to get home to Providence," first-grade teacher Kelly Speck said. "It was probably the safest trip I have ever made, though, because I never drove over 15 miles per hour."

The roads closer to home faired much better after hours of preparation by the Department of Public Works.

"Based upon the reports of Steve Goslee, Mike Gray and Highway Supervisor Kevin Deacon, we did not have any major problems," Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said. "Crews were out as soon as the snow started to fall from the first storm on Thursday and worked most of the night to keep the roads in great shape."

The town issued a parking ban that was effective at 1 p.m. on Dec. 13, and Keiser said residents were cooperative in keeping their vehicles clear of the plows.

"A lot of businesses even closed early, so we didn't even have a problem along Narragansett Avenue," he said.

Still a little sleep deprived from the Thursday storm, crews were back in action on Saturday to ensure the approaching storm did not have a major impact on the town.

"We were out Saturday night into Sunday morning to pre-treat the roads and then after a short stay at home, the crews were back out on Sunday to start cleaning up after the storm hit," Keiser said. "Our biggest concern about the weekend storm was about blocked drains, but the crews made sure they were clear and we didn't have any issues."

Fire Chief Jim Bryer said that although his department was prepared to handle the worst situation that may have arisen, they were also in good shape. "We were waiting, but we really did not have any problems at all. They had quite a few things happen in North Kingstown, but thankfully they didn't make it across the bridge," he said.

Two local businesses that normally experience a storm rush reported brisk sales of salt and kitty litter to combat the slippery conditions.

"We sold out of ice melt and rock salt like everyone else. It took me about two hours on the phone on Monday to track some down and then about five hours of travel time to go pick it up," Scott Sherman of Jamestown Hardware said. "We also did a brisk business in shovels and play and traction sand. We even gave away sawdust."

Sherman said another common call was for snowblowers, and cautioned that the time to get one is before the next storm hits. "We can get blowers in once a week with our shipment, but you can't expect to come in on the day of a storm and find one in stock."

In addition to salt and litter, McQuade's Marketplace supervisor Trish O'Brien said customers were stocking up on comfort foods. "Once the bad weather comes, people just want to stay in. We saw very little traffic on Sunday between the storm and the football game," she said.

Islanders are urged to follow the example of the local agencies and prepare for the next storm before it becomes a reality.

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