2008-12-24 / Front Page

Storm plays havoc on area roads

By Adrienne Downing

Although the bulk of the snow from this weekend's winter storm came down Friday evening and Saturday morning, crews from the Jamestown Department of Public Works were still at work Monday ensuring the island's roads stayed in the best shape possible.

"This was a difficult storm because the snow came down so rapidly, it was hard to keep up with," Town Engineer Michael Gray said. "A few of our 10 drivers worked all the way through Saturday after being up all night Friday night."

The public works department tried to minimize the impact of the storm by sanding roads early and having plows ready to go as soon as the snow started falling. "The DPW had a crew meeting on Thursday to prepare for the storm 24 hours in advance," Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said. However, Gray said, on top of the effects of the large amount of snow fall, the sleet and freezing rain that fell on Sunday and the flash freeze that followed had the crews back out plowing the roads.

The town administrator said that a tour of the island's roads on Monday surprised him. "I don't think I have seen worse conditions after a storm, but it was not for lack of trying. The DPW crew put in long, long hours and if it snows on Christmas, they will be the ones out there plowing the roads again."

After some road thawing occurred Monday from traffic and direct sunlight, the crews returned to sand the main thoroughfares to try to prevent refreezing Monday night.

"They did a great job. The intensity was high and it was frustrating at times, especially when we had to take a few drivers away to deal with a lot of the limbs that were down," Gray said.

Fallen limbs were also the cause of most of the Jamestown Fire Department's work during the storm. The weight of the snow caused limbs to fall in several areas and falling limbs took out power lines on Highland Drive and Cole Street on Friday night leaving residents temporarily without power.

"Fortunately, in both cases when the wires went down they popped the breaker, so there were no live wires," Fire Chief Jim Bryer said. When power lines fall, Bryer said the fire department sets up trucks on both sides of the fallen wire so motorists and pedestrians do not come in contact with it.

Bryer said the fire department also had to respond to a cellar pump call on Saturday that was indirectly caused by the snow. "There were a few things, but I was expecting more. I think most people heeded the warning on Friday and stayed home," the chief said.

Keiser also said that having schools and many businesses closed was helpful in the town's efforts to keep roads clear and safe. "People paid attention to the parking ban, which allowed for more efficient plowing," Keiser said. "The least amount of traffic in those situations, the better."

One place in town that stayed busy through the whole weekend was Jamestown Hardware. Owner Scott Sherman said he sold at least 50 snow shovels and ice melt was flying out the doors. "We made three trips to get 50 bags of ice melt that comes in 50 pound bags and we sold at least 20, 100-pound bags and 50, 20-pound bags, as well," Sherman said.

Although he was not surprised at the amount of ice melt sold, he was a little baffled at the fact that he had no snow shovels remaining on Monday morning. "I always wonder where the shovels go year to year. Some of the same people who bought one last year came in and bought one this year," Sherman said.

McQuade's Market also did a brisk business because of the storm. "We were insanely busy on Friday, and people were not just stocking up on bread and milk, but they were buying carts full of groceries," Mary Krueger said. Normally the store experiences a rush the day prior to and the day of a storm, Krueger said, "But, Saturday was just as busy as Friday, if not busier," she said.

Now that the island has weathered its first major storm, town offi cials are hoping that today's predicted storm brings either all rain or all snow. "I would rather see all snow, than the mix that caused the mess from this storm," Gray said.

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