Anne Arundel digs out from winter storm

With schools, government offices and workplaces closed Thursday, many in Anne Arundel County spent the day digging out from under a heavy, wet snowfall that blanketed the region.

Some did it for themselves; some did it for others.

In downtown Annapolis, Naval Academy midshipmen hit the streets to shovel. With classes canceled, some liked having something to do.

"Instead of sitting around working out or playing video games, we might as well help the community," said Midshipman Charles Alcasid, who was shoveling with classmates Paul Ahn and Nathan Ritter.

All three had experience with snow: Alcasid is from Staten Island, Ahn is from Queens and Ritter is from a military family most recently stationed in Stuttgart, Germany.

"This is like Germany snow — wet and heavy," Ritter said.

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County officials reported few problems from the snowfall, which ranged from several inches to a foot. Officials said that with plenty of warning, plow crews worked through the night and into the day clearing roads.

"We have very experienced crews. They're doing a great job," said Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman. "They've been all over the county clearing roads."

Closures and cancellations included senior centers, Department of Aging and Disabilities transportation services, public schools, Anne Arundel Community College, Naval Academy, county government offices, Annapolis city government offices, state government offices and federal government offices.

Fort George G. Meade in west county opened on Thursday with reduced operations.

Looking ahead, public schools called off classes again for Friday.

The total accumulation for Anne Arundel County wound up between 10 and 12.5" inches. BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in Linthicum reported 12.3 inches.

Officials reported seven accidents since the start of the snow, with five people transported to hospitals. By Thursday evening, there were only five reported power outages, county officials said.

In downtown Annapolis, the water at City Dock was coated with slushy ice, with gulls and ducks perched on top.

The statue of Alex Haley was reading to more than just a handful of statue children at the dock — someone had added a snowman to the scene.

Some downtown stores and bars opened despite the weather. Rams Head on West Street promised "Beer & Wine & Whiskey, Food & Smiles" on a sign outside, while Dry 85 suggested: "If there is ice on your toes, come put a fire in your belly with one of our 120 whiskeys."

Broadneck High School near Annapolis attracted sledders eager to woosh down a large hill near the football stadium. There was just enough snow for a good slide, but the sledding runs finished in a slushy mess by mid-afternoon.

Broadneck students Will O'Neill, Tim Dold, Gunnar Henson, Jerome Skinner, Jake Edwards and Patrick Wicker turned a pair of blue plastic trash cans into makeshift sleds.

"We had a tube and it didn't work out," Edwards said.

The boys said if they weren't sledding, they'd probably be home watching movies, the Olympics or playing video games. None of them minded being off of school for yet another day and they were looking at a possible five-day weekend — with school canceled again on Friday and a holiday Monday for Presidents Day.

Dold, a junior, did have one wish for the snow days: "It would be better if it was next year, so we wouldn't have to make it up."

In Brooklyn Park, 95-year-old Jean Huggins found herself with a common problem: She had paid a neighbor to clear her driveway, but an Anne Arundel plow crew pushed a big pile of snow across it.

Huggins' son-in-law's sister was upset and complained to the county Emergency Operations Center. That call triggered a fix neither woman expected.

An SUV driven by a county police officer pulled up Thursday afternoon with County Executive Laura Neuman, community services representative Candy Fontz and communications director Walinda West.

Neuman set to work clearing Huggins' driveway.

"I never expected to see a truckload of women," said Huggins, a former deputy sheriff whose late husband, William Huggins, was a seven-term county sheriff.

Neuman said she wanted to help Huggins, but couldn't justify sending a public works crew because they needed to plow roads.

"We're not going to leave her here on her own," Neuman said.

The scores of midshipmen who joined the snow brigade wound up having one logistical problem: Not enough shovels to go around. Snow shovels aren't exactly standard-issue equipment for midshipmen. But they rounded up about 30.

Midshipman Brent Aldridge of Roanoke, Va., thought shoveling was a nice way to give back to the community they call home for four years.

"This makes up for all the candy from football games," he said, referencing a tradition of fans pelting the Brigade of Midshipmen with candy as they march to football games, which often leaves a mess in the streets.

The outing was enjoyable, they said, but for Midshipman David Stevens, who hails from Tuscon, Ariz., it was a bit too much of a "good" thing.

"I'm ready for spring," he said. "I'm tired of the cold."

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