The snow along the streets of Bolton Hill on Sunday was hip-deep.

Few cars even tried to ply the single, narrow lane that city plows had opened. Residents cooped up since Friday were just beginning to emerge.


But at Park Cafe & Coffee Shop on McMechen Street, owner David Hart was busy serving a line of customers.

"We made plans with our vendors well before the storm hit," he said over the festive din. "For a small-business owner, it's only common sense."

From hospitals and stores to delivery services and specialty boutiques, institutions that serve the public must plan ahead to keep logistics running smoothly and supply chains intact during upheavals such last week's winter storm — and after.

The storm shut down public transportation, blocked major roadways and left members of the public uncertain whether they'd be able to make doctors' appointments, visit relatives in nursing homes or keep their cupboards stocked.

The snow has stopped falling, but the challenge continues; officials expect it will take days to clear all roads, as stocks of staples at stores and in homes dwindle.

Federal Express and the U.S. Postal Service reported significant interruptions and delays in service.

The Postal Service said in a statement that it had suspended services in ZIP code areas beginning with the numbers 210 through 219 on Friday but did not say Sunday when those would resume.

Jack Pfeiffer, a spokesman for FedEx, said there would be "some delays in areas that have been severely impacted by this winter storm system, but we're monitoring conditions and have contingency plans in place to minimize the impact" — including, if necessary, altering aircraft departure times and adding delivery trucks.

"We're going to make sure packages get to [customers] as quickly as possible, so far as the weather and safety allow," he said.

Wal-Mart closed 15 stores in Maryland, including eight in Baltimore and surrounding counties.

Michael Keys, manager of the Target store on York Road in Timonium, said every location in the chain's Mid-Atlantic district was open through the weekend. It was up to the manager of each store to determine hours.

As the storm raged Saturday, Keys said, his store closed at 3 p.m. — eight hours earlier than usual — but opened for business at 8 in the morning Sunday.

It would remain open until 10 p.m., the usual closing time, he said.

At midday Sunday, Keys said, the store's parking lot was still half-buried in snow, and there were only a few customers — mostly neighbors who could walk to the site.


York Road was still "a mess," he said, and because most public transportation was shut down, many staffers had no way to get to work.

More than three weeks ago, though, Target counseled its store managers to make sure staffers who live nearby would be available — Keys said about half the usual number were on hand, enough to serve customers — and that stores should stock up on staples: milk, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, bread and more.

By working with suppliers ahead of time, Keys said, the store was able to stock enough of those products to last through Monday and beyond. He said the stock would cover customers' needs until the roads are clear for delivery trucks and buses and light rail are running again.

All Safeway stores but one in the Mid-Atlantic region were open Sunday, a company spokesman said. (One store in Bel Air was shuttered due to a partial roof collapse.)

There had been no deliveries for "a day or two," spokesman Craig M. Muckle said, but planning had circumvented problems.

"We had almost daily conference calls last week in preparation," he said. "We figured at some point there would be no deliveries to our stores, so we began augmenting every store's orders with additional staples. We were able to do this up until Friday."

Extra inventory was stocked in trailers behind most of the stores that are open 24 hours a day, Muckle said. He said he was confident that "things will be fully back to normal" in all stores as early as Monday.

At North Oaks Retirement Community in Pikesville, executive director Mark Pressman said, his staffers have been through enough storms that they know the drill: get an extra food delivery by Friday, make sure the facility's snowplow, plow-mounted pickup and tractors are gassed up and ready to go, and make room in the site's model units and vacant apartments for staff members who are willing to stay for the duration.

More than 30 stayed on Friday and Saturday nights, he said, a light but sufficient crew of nurses, food workers and maintenance crew to keep all services going.

They worked in alternating 12-hour shifts, with eight or so on the job at night.

"It's not luxurious, but we get by," Pressman said. "It's remarkable how an event like this brings out the best in our staff."

Area hospitals also got the jump on the storm, keeping all vital operations going as industry regulations require.

Karen Doyle, an incident commander for emergency operations at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said leaders contacted staff to ensure all medical contingencies would be covered, including making sure enough surgical personnel would be present .

The team works with pharmaceutical suppliers to keep at least seven days' worth of medications on hand, Doyle said, and with vendors to keep 96 hours' worth of food and water present.

Greater Baltimore Medical Center reported "no impact to operations," said Stacey McGreevy, an incident commander and administrator at the Towson hospital.

The facility's critical incident team keeps staff trained for emergencies, including severe weather, McGreevy said, making sure there's enough fuel on hand to last for nine days, providing sleeping quarters for staff, even ensuring that maintenance has enough salt to clear roads on the campus as quickly as possible.

Traffic to the emergency room waned during the worst of the storm but is returning to normal, she said, and vehicle traffic in and out of the site is brisk.

The storm has disrupted home delivery of The Baltimore Sun.

The newspaper was "able to deliver papers Sunday to 25 percent of our retail outlets, and we have plans in place to begin home delivery as early as Sunday afternoon," spokeswoman Renee Mutchnik said Sunday.

"We are positioned to resume delivery to our subscribers and retail outlets; however, due to street accessibility, we anticipate it could take several days to return to 100 percent," she said.

The Baltimore Sun made storm-related content available for free online, and allowed readers to download a digital replica of the newspaper for free.

At Park Cafe & Coffee Shop, Hart said he'd used social media to alert customers that his cafe would be open throughout the weekend, albeit with truncated hours, and that he'd been sure to order a triple delivery of bread and pastries for Friday before the storm came calling.

The roads being what they were on Sunday, he didn't know whether suppliers would be able to deliver to the year-old business. He called such uncertainty part of the "joy" of running a small business.


"I don't want to sound like I know all the answers, but I think you just try to use common sense," he said, "A lot of it is out of your hands."