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Snow-clearing efforts continue across county

Henry Hirsch and his son Steve first attacked their driveway off York Street in Manchester with shovels and an electric snowblower around noon on Monday. It was 3 p.m. before they had cleared all but the last wall of snow at the street-end of the roughly 30-foot-long driveway. They finished their labor in a canyon of their own making, the shoveled snow piled high to either side of the driveway in two vast bulks.

"I've lived here for 32 years, and this is the worst I've seen," Henry Hirsch said. "Maybe not as bad as 2010 with the back-to-back snows, but for one snowfall, the worst."

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Digging out from the snow of Winter Storm Jonas has been a marathon, but also a sprint: Around the county, crews are working around the clock to unbury Carroll County residents and businesses from the weekend snowstorm as quickly as possible.

"We have everything that we can out there," said David Reese, deputy director of public works for the county. "This storm really took its toll."

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With 64 routes to cover and more than 900 miles of roadway, crews have their work cut out for them, Reese said.

"It's tough out there," he said, adding that crews have been working nonstop to free up roadways, eating and sleeping when they can. "We're not forgetting any of the streets; it's just you may not see anyone for awhile."

"We'll be working all week to try to push [the snow] back as much as we can in developments," Reese said. "What we ask is that people try to work with us."

That means clearing snow from their own driveways and avoiding placing snow into the roadway, which Reese said defeats the purpose of plowing and can result in more snow being pushed onto the ends of driveways, something that is largely unavoidable when plowing, he said.

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On Monday afternoon, Reese said the county had 50 trucks working on plowing the streets, in addition to 14 contractor vehicles.

At points during the weekend, there were more than 104 pieces of equipment on the street, he said, but, with the large snow load, equipment breakdowns proved to be a problem.

"A storm like this takes its toll on equipment," he said.

It will also take a toll on the county's state of emergency budget, which Reese said is $1.8 million.

While the county won't know the exact cost of the storm until invoices from contractors are filed, this year will likely exceed that budget, he said.

The heavy snow also put a strain on county police resources.

The Maryland State Police reported eight accidental collisions and 16 abandoned vehicles between Friday afternoon and Sunday, said 1st Sgt. Michael Knight.

According to Brian Lasorsa, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, there is the potential for more precipitation throughout the week. He said Carroll could expect light showers Tuesday afternoon, and a system that could bring more snow to the area is currently brewing.

Lasorsa said as of right now, it seems more likely the storm will go out to sea, missing Maryland entirely, but there is a slight chance that it will bring snow this weekend. Tuesday's rain is much more likely to affect the region, he said, with anticipated below-freezing temperatures creating icy roads following Tuesday's rain and flurries.

Municipalities in Carroll are also continuing to deal with the effects of Winter Storm Jonas.

In Sykesville, Town Manager Dawn Ashbacher said residents could expect all roads to be open by the end of Monday. After roads are open, the town will enter the next phase of snow removal: pushing snow back, removing snow where necessary, and completing plowing of municipal parking lots.

Only one of the town's four plows was built to handle the amount of snow the town received, Ashbacher said, but the town managed to work almost around the clock to uncover the roads. The work wasn't without a cost.

"I'm sure this blows our budget out of the water," Ashbacher said, although the town won't have final numbers until later.

Trash and recycling pick-up in Sykesville has been canceled for the week, she said, as was the mayor and Town Council meeting scheduled for Monday.

Trash collection in Mount Airy has been canceled for Tuesday, said Mayor Patrick Rockinberg, and the rest of the week's schedule has not yet been decided.

"We're making do the best we can," Rockinberg said.

As of late Monday morning, Rockinberg said all roads in the town have at least one lane cleared for traffic. Up next, he said, is widening the clearage area.

Although he said he hadn't heard an official measure of snow the town received, it was more than much of the town's snow removal trucks could handle, he said.

"Our normal pick-up plows don't quite work with the magnitude of the snow we have," he said.

With the help of contractors and larger vehicles, Rockinberg said the town is making progress. He praised the patience many members of the Mount Airy community have shown.

"The community's really working together," he said. "At this point, public safety is the first thing."

Roads were also opening in Westminster, said Mayor Kevin Utz, who also asked that residents continue to stay off the road and park in alternate space while plows continue to clear the roads.

As of Monday, all the streets in Westminster developments were plowed at least once. Crews were also blowing snow off of Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, Utz said.

"The city is looking pretty good compared to others," he said.

Westminster's main roads were completely passable, with two lanes plowed. It's streets in neighborhood developments have at least a lane and a half plowed, said Larry Bloom, superintendent for street maintenance.

Bloom echoed Utz's request that people stay off the road, adding that parked cars are also creating challenges.

"When we come into the neighborhoods, the less cars on the street, the easier it will be to clean," Bloom said.

For now, extra snow is being stockpiled in empty lots by the firehouse and High's on Liberty Street, Utz said.

Westminster's city offices were closed and Common Council meeting canceled as a result of the snow, but businesses were beginning to reopen, with many of their patrons walking to them, including Utz.

"I think folks will be much more mobile Tuesday than they are Monday," he said.

While many roads are snow-free, Utz warned that sidewalks are still treacherous.

"Sidewalks will still be icy," he said. "Sidewalks will still be snowy."

In addition to dangerous sidewalks due to ice, Utz said people need to be careful of icicles that formed from the cold weather.

"I ask people to use caution and to make themselves aware," he said.

Taneytown City Manager Henry Heine said snow removal will take some time.

"Our problem is a lot of snow and lack of equipment," Heine said. "We've hired several dump trucks and front-end loaders because we can't get in with the plows."

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Heine said at least one lane is open throughout the city and visibility is a challenge.

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"In some intersections the snow is so high, you can't see. It's just going to take time," Heine said, adding, "Patience is definitely encouraged. Given the manpower and equipment limitations, we're doing the best we can. We're not fully recovered yet. It should be at least another day."

The city's trash removal is on schedule for Wednesday.

Union Bridge Clerk-Treasurer Dawn Metcalf said crews were working on the roads, but also asked for patience from the community.

"Please give us time to get to each road to get it clean and salted," she said.

Hughes Trash Removal, which collects the refuse and recycling for Union Bridge, is running a day behind schedule, according to their answering service.

In New Windsor, the town made quick progress getting roadways open.

Mayor Neal Roop said all of the town's streets and alleys were open as of 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

"We're going around now and widening them. The guys did an outstanding job. I'll put our Public Works guys up against anybody," he said.

The town's Tuesday trash pickup is now scheduled for Wednesday. Roop advises residents to put trash out early and keep it clear of snow and ice.

In Hampstead, snow removal is still underway and a priority for the town, according to Police Chief Ken Meekins.

"Snow removal is imperative to public safety," Meekins wrote in an email. "I ask that everyone here in Hampstead help our public works crews finish the snow cleanup without impeding their progress with vehicles and snow from your driveway. It would also help the snow removal if you would refrain from parking on the streets until the work is completed."

Trash pickup in Hampstead has not been affected by the storm, according to Mayor Chris Nevin.

"That's not until Thursday and Friday, so we should be good," he said.

In Manchester, snow removal has proceeded according to plan, although trash removal has been bumped from Wednesday to Thursday, according to Kelly Baldwin, the town's director of finance.

"As far as plowing, we're done; we're just moving and piling snow and making sure people have visibility at intersections," she said. "We think by Wednesday, we will be done the actual hauling of the snow."

Plow crews in Manchester were assisted by the town police, Baldwin said, and local, county and state road workers were kept fed by the Manchester fire company.

"That was a huge help," she said. "I think that goes a long way, everybody working as a team."

Times reporters Jon Kelvey, Heather Norris, Michel Elben and Heather Mongilio contributed to this article.

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