Maryland faces days of work to dig out from massive snowstorm

The cleanup will be monumental, too.

Officials throughout Maryland marshaled plows, dump trucks, even Humvees to begin hauling out the weekend's snowfall, a labor that's expected to last days, and is likely to test the patience of snowed-in families.


Some secondary routes remained covered in snow and ice. Officials warned driving conditions during the Monday morning commute would be dangerous after Sunday night's re-freeze.

"You're going to be at risk of hitting black ice," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.


Preliminary measures rank the snowstorm as the largest ever to hit Baltimore. Officials recorded 29.2 inches at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Enough snow covered Maryland highways, State Highway Administration officials calculated, to fill 35-foot dump trucks lined up nearly twice around the world.

Along Route 97 on Sunday, several cars lay abandoned and buried in snowdrifts.

"Getting back to business as usual is going to take a considerable amount of time," Gov. Larry Hogan said.


Maryland remained under a state of emergency Sunday evening. The governor said he will seek disaster relief from FEMA, which could help pay overtime for government workers and repair damage to public infrastructure.

Federal, state and local officials will begin the process of assessing the damage and expenses in coming days.

To open the roads, state officials deployed some 3,000 pieces of road-clearing equipment, 700 National Guard troops and 212 vehicles. And enough salt — 365,000 tons — to match the weight of the Empire State Building.

Hogan asked for patience as the work continues.

"It has been very trying and difficult 36 hours for Marylanders," he said.

State and county government offices were closed for Monday, but the General Assembly planned to meet in Annapolis.

Schools around the state will be closed on Monday. Government offices in Baltimore are to be closed to all but essential employees.

The city remains under Phase II of its snow emergency plan, meaning all vehicles traveling in the city must be equipped with snow tires, all-weather radial tires or snow chains, and parking is restricted along snow emergency routes.

Rawlings-Blake encouraged residents and visitors to avoid the roads.

The city's department of transportation continued to tow cars parked on snow emergency routes. As of Sunday evening, 282 cars had been relocated, according to the department. Drivers whose cars have been towed can call 311 to find out where their cars have been moved and retrieve them at no cost.

Officials did not say when they expected all roads to be open again.

In Baltimore, about half of neighborhood streets remained covered Sunday evening, officials said. Crews had cleared about 90 percent of the primary streets.

"While we want to get to as many neighborhood streets as we can, as quickly as we can, we know it is going to take time," Rawlings-Blake said. "This is a complicated snow-removal effort."

Micah Kleid didn't know how he would reach work Monday at Baltimore's Bagby Pizza Co. The 34-year-old said the cul-de-sacs remained covered in his neighborhood, the Greens at Smith, near Mount Washington.

"I'm torn. I understand it's the largest blizzard in the history of the state," he said. "So if none of my neighborhood was plowed, I would think nothing of it. The fact that our main road was plowed, but they didn't touch the courts is a little infuriating. ...

"Either do it all, or don't do any of it."

Kleid worried he'd miss work and Monday's pay.

Neighbors in Locust Point gathered to shovel side streets, but had nowhere to dump the snow. So they filled buckets, even Tupperware, and passed the containers down the block.

"I don't think anybody had the expectation that after 30 inches of snow, the entire city would be dug out," said Greg Sileo, president of the Locust Point Civic Association.

Every corner of the state was affected by the storm, from the shore, which was battered by high waves, to the mountains, where some of the heaviest snows fell.

William Johnson, director of the city's transportation department, said crews were working 12-hour shifts to clear snow. He visited a staging area in Pimlico Sunday afternoon with Rawlings-Blake, where equipment arrived from outside the state.

"The main roads are starting to open up now," he said. "We're starting to see asphalt in a lot of locations."

Alyson Kashima owns a house at the intersection of Falls Road and West 41st Street in Hampden damaged by heavy snow. The porch on her house and two others collapsed Saturday under the weight.

Kashima, who lives in Owings Mills and rents out the house, said she put a new roof on last summer and expects insurance to cover the damage.

"Everyone is OK, thankfully," she said Sunday. "It was one of those things that the weight of the snow was too much for it."

Lorraine Sugar and her boyfriend, Conor Brady, walked past on their way home from the Giant on Sunday.

"Brutal," Sugar said, and pulled her smartphone from her pocket to take a photo. "I feel for them."

At BWI Marshall Airport, the first flight after the storm arrived Sunday afternoon. All flights had been canceled since Friday evening, a gap of nearly 48 hours. Some additional cancellations were expected through Monday, airport spokesman Jonathan Dean said.

The Maryland Transit Administration offered free rides Monday to accommodate commuters faced with reduced service and schedule changes. The MTA expects to have all services fully operating by Tuesday, and no later than Wednesday, officials said.

In suburban areas, officials cautioned that it could be the middle of the week before roads are cleared up.

Howard County expected main roads to be in good condition by Monday morning, but warned it could be until Wednesday or Thursday until all of the county's 4,100 streets are cleared, spokesman Mark Miller said.

Some leaders said wind and drifting snow continued to cause problems — in some cases setting back progress that had been made after snow stopped falling Saturday night.

On Chauncey Avenue, in Baltimore's Reservoir Hill neighborhood, the streets were still covered in snow Sunday night, said Juanita Garrison, who turns 76 on Wednesday.

"The snow is so thick," she said, "you can walk out your door and down to the pathway, but that's as far as we can go.

"I'm prayerful. We're all prayerful the plow will come."

Baltimore Sun reporters Yvonne Wenger, Sarah Meehan and Scott Dance contributed to this report.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun