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Arbutus neighborhood comes together to dig out after historic snowstorm

Arbutus neighborhood comes together after historic snowstorm

The lone sledder in a field south of University of Maryland Baltimore County, 4-year-old Declan Stokes conquered a berm of plowed ice and slush, climbed to the precipice of the 20-foot hill and hopped onto a lime-green disc.

"Do you want to see how fast my sled goes?" he asked.

He pushed off and slid down to the bottom, but wasn't fully satisfied with the run. On his second attempt he slid the farthest he had so far on Monday — about 30 feet.

"It's like a rocket ship," he said.

His grandfather brought the sled to his home in Halethorpe on Friday, just before the largest snowstorm in Baltimore history.

At age 4, Stokes wasn't around for the blizzard of 2010, and this was the first time he had seen this much snow. He was excited and amazed, his father said.

"He wanted to go down in the middle of the night to play," David Stokes said.

He and other Arbutus residents had to wait for the storm to pass on Sunday to get outside again. The storm began Friday evening, and by the time it stopped snowing Saturday night about 26 1/2 inches had fallen in the Arbutus area.

As the Stokeses were playing, on Poplar Avenue in Arbutus other residents were digging out their vehicles. David Michaels Smardon and his father were digging out his black car, using two shovels and a broom.

"For me, it's the worst as far as the amount," he said.

Plows had reached their narrow road, clearing the street but covering cars along the way.

"Whatever the plow pushes you have to scoop up," he said.

The pair carefully stuck shovels into the snow, stopping just short of the vehicle's doors, breaking off big blocks of snow at a time.

"There is a car under here," David George Smardon said.

Across the street from them, Jim Mason was helping his neighbors clear their driveway using a snowblower.

"They're in their 80s," he said. "They've been good neighbors to us."

On Sunday Mason was out from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. clearing his vehicle and property. He said others neighbors on the street have been helping each other, including a father and son down the street who cleared a nurse's driveway for her before handling their own.

"Everyone knows everyone, everyone helps everyone," he said.

In Catonsville, families who weren't clearing off cars or driveways were at a hill at Community College of Baltimore County that is so well known for sledding, the college has put up a permanent "Sleigh ride at own risk" sign. More than a hundred people were on the hill sledding Monday afternoon.

Soubia Balkhi, who recently moved to the area from Richmond, Virginia, took two of her children sledding on the hill for the first time. She promised her children they would go if their road in Windsor Hills was cleared.

"We pretty much had cabin fever," she said.

Being stuck inside two days wasn't all bad, however. Balkhi said she got to teach her daughter how to sew.

"We got to spend good family time together we might have missed out on otherwise," she said.

Many other families at the hill have been coming there for generations. Arian Wood of Catonsville came there when she was a child, and was back with a 5-year-old of her own.

"It's local. Everybody can get here pretty easily," she said. "A lot of people come here because they know their friends will be here."

Cynthia Trump of Catonsville brought two daughters to go sledding Monday. Trump has found memories of the hill, including a time her father bought a tractor trailer inter tube for she and her sister — so many kids piled on, the tube ended up going down the hill without her.

"It's always been a fun place."

Roads update

Roads should be cleared by Wednesday. Contact the county Department of Public Works at snow@baltimorecountymd.gov if your street hasn't been reached. Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County, also asked residents to clear areas around fire hydrants and storm drains if they haven't already.

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