The Havre de Grace and Aberdeen areas stayed low-key Monday as snow clean-up continued, many people were home from work and institutions like schools remained closed.
The Havre de Grace and Aberdeen areas stayed low-key early this week, as snow clean-up continued, many people were home from work and institutions like schools and libraries remained closed Monday and Tuesday.
Roads were getting clearer and traffic was flowing well through major thoroughfares like Routes 40 and 22 and on most downtown streets, although plows and dump trucks were busily trying to widen travel lanes.
Aberdeen Proving Ground urged employees to use the Route 715 gate Tuesday morning, noting on social media that "road conditions along [Route] 22 are causing traffic delays and backups."
"It's historic. It's historic snowfall and the biggest problem is, where do we put the snow," Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin said Tuesday. "Every time we do a pass on the street, we always plow snow into someone's driveway, so it's a double-edged sword."
Havre de Grace had 99 percent of its roads plowed once by Sunday evening, Martin said. The city had no serious calls, except for one medical call for a man who broke his hip during the storm, he said.
"The crews have been working since Friday night at 7 p.m. They've been working around the clock," he said, explaining the city had 16 plows working through Sunday night.
"We did let them go home Sunday night at 6 p.m., because they were sleeping at the DPW shop in shifts," he said.
"Our main goal is that all roads in Havre de Grace were at least driveable," Martin said. On Monday, the public works department committed resources to clearing several blocks downtown by collecting the snow in dump trucks and taking it to the Yacht Basin.
On Tuesday, the city was focusing on going back through intersections and trying to widen lanes, he said.
Sledding at Millard Tydings Park in Havre de Grace on Monday, Jan. 25, following winter storm Jonas dumping more than two feet of snow on the area. (Bryna Zumer, Baltimore Sun Media Group)
"I'm really very proud of our citizens for staying off the roads as much as they could," Martin said.
"When you get snow like this there's no precedent for it. I just said to [new public works director] Tim Whittie, let's keep them on around the clock," he said about the plowing crews. "We handled it well and we were very lucky that nothing tragic happened."
Many residents of both municipalities seemed patient with the snow removal progress on streets, while they stayed busy digging out their own driveways or cars.
"Yesterday I did this driveway and my neighbor's driveway," Tom Stadterman, who lives on Paradise Road near Aberdeen High School, explained. He was almost done shoveling out his driveway Monday afternoon.
He noted snow crews came through the major road "pretty early" on Sunday and he was happy with the service.
The weekend blizzard, however, "was probably one of the worst," he said. "I think 2003 was worse, but I wasn't here because we were on vacation."
Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady, who was driving his truck around town, praised his city's response to the storm.
"We had a great storm recovery by our [Department of Public Works] crew. They've been working basically 20-hour shifts – it's like 18 hours but they've been sleeping in cots at the shop. The guys that had to go home, they went home, they've been driving the trucks, snow plow guys are kicking butt all the way across town," McGrady said.
"I think our response has been better than expected by anybody," he said, noting the city was about "99 1/2 percent" clear by Monday afternoon.
"All we can ask now is that people understand that this is a process that we're trying to get through to get everything done," he said.
"We've also got to give a shout-out to Aberdeen police for their diligent efforts, working nonstop hours," McGrady added. "They responded to every call, even in the middle of the blizzard. There's been issues with emergency vehicles that got stuck, where the DPW guys diverted from their snow plowing and went over and pulled the emergency vehicles out. I heard some of that from the chief of police."
Few issues are able to rile an electorate or strike fear in elected leaders like snow plowing. Elections have been lost after failed snow removal efforts, accusations are routinely hurled about rich neighborhoods getting cleared first, and elected officials sometimes sound alarms over perceived political slights.
Not everyone was happy with the city's cleaning job. Ellen Cutler, of Beards Hill Road, wrote in an email that she was disappointed to find her cul-de-sac was suddenly at the bottom of the city's priority list after always being cleared early in the past.
"I know that managing services is complicated," she wrote. "But come on. This is ridiculous! All we need is the couple hundred feet plowed to Kendrick, on which we can see traffic moving."
McGrady, who said he has been fielding phone calls all day from people who are trying to get to work in Baltimore or Cecil County, said he believes even those who are complaining have been tolerant.
"Even with the calls I've been getting from people complaining, saying, 'Look, what the heck, why isn't my street getting done,' even with those calls, they understand that this is so much snow," McGrady said, arguing the city nevertheless had more streets cleaned sooner than Harford County government.
"I honestly don't think it could have gone any better," he said.
In Havre de Grace, street clearing was also coming along, with St. John Street blocked off early Monday afternoon so equipment could keep moving massive piles of snow in the area around Coakley's and MacGregor's pubs.
Landmarks like the Millard Tydings Park area were largely clean, with the parking lot mostly clear of snow by the water.
The promenade was devoid of people and filled with deep, untouched snow, but the hill by the park's playground was crowded with families and children who were busy taking advantage of the closed schools to go sledding by the waterfront. That's pretty much a rite of passage in Havre de Grace.
Gary and Diane Foster, who live downtown, were among several people walking around the business district and enjoying the sunny winter day.
"The storm was very big, but the town is doing a good job cleaning up and they're making progress," Gary Foster said. "Praise the Lord for the sun, which seems to be helping, and things are going good."
"I think this was the biggest storm they've gotten. We got somewhere around 26, 28 inches, so it's a bunch of snow," he observed. "But I think people are out, getting out, shoveled out. The weather's good, so we're happy."