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City of Laurel government, schools closed Monday

In a post-blizzard television update on Sunday morning, city of Laurel Mayor Craig Moe announced that city government will be closed on Monday and reopen on Tuesday with liberal leave for employees.

"It's not over. We still have a lot of work to do," he said in the announcement from the Laurel Municipal Center. "We will continue that work."

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Schools will also be closed on Monday, said Sherrie Johnson, Prince George's County Public Schools spokeswoman. She did not say when they would reopen.

As a result of the storm and Monday's city government closure, Moe announced the following schedule changes:

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•The City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 25 has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m.

•All Park and Recreation activities have been cancelled until Tuesday, Jan. 26

•Trash and recycling pickup has been rescheduled to Tuesday, Jan. 26

•The city of Laurel public safety breakfast scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 26 has been cancelled

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The city's Department of Public Works has much work to do, with 54 miles of roadway to plow, according to the city's Facebook page.

"Many of the roads we'll be digging out for several days to come," Moe said.

Before and during the 36-hour winter storm – which brought both heavy snow and high winds – Public Works and the Emergency Operations Center worked around the clock to clear primary routes and make them passable for fire and emergency vehicles.

"I want to thank them on behalf of residents and businesses in Laurel," Moe said. "We had 32 employees, 12 city snow plows...and much more to keep city streets open and clear."

City employees worked 12 to 16 hour shifts during the storm, said the city's fire marshal, David Cope, who acted as director of the Emergency Operations Center on Saturday.

Winter storm Jonas lived up to forecasts and blizzard warnings, piling on as much as 40 inches in parts of Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Weather Service. The Baltimore Sun reported that winter storm Jonas was possibly one of the five largest storms to hit the Interstate 95 corridor from Washington to New York.

Laurel received its fair share of snow, with residents waking up to a layer 27 inches thick under sunny, blue skies.

"This snowfall is potentially a record event," city administrator Marty Flemion said after Mayor Moe spoke. "It definitely has the potential to expend the entire snow budget for the city."

Flemion said that the storm could be declared a disaster all the way up through the president's office, and that federal funds might be made available for reimburesment.

"We're keeping track of all the numbers, and more importantly to qualify, we're keeping track of snowfall totals," he said.

Chief of Police Richard McLaughlin asked that residents do not drive unless it is "absolutely necessary."

"The roads do appear to be clear, but it is still treacherous," he said. "And we have pedestrians in the street because sidewalks are not accessible."

He asked pedestrians to walk against traffic and wear bright clothing, so that they are visible to snow plow drivers.

The State of Emergency is still in effect, McLaughlin said, and related parking restrictions must be obeyed. 31 vehicles have already been towed, he said.

Cars parked illegally along snow emergency routes and other no parking zones can be ticketed, towed and impounded at the owner's expense, according to the city of Laurel website. Residents whose cars have been towed should call the Laurel Police Department at 301-498-0092 for release procedures.

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