SHORELINE — As the snow started falling along the Shoreline around noon Thursday, Feb. 18, it posed problems for motorists already on treacherous roads.
The snow is set to fall all day Friday.
“I think some people were caught off guard by the storm,” said Madison First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons. “It was a little more intense this morning than what people were expecting and so we just want them to be really cautious out there.”
According to Madison Police Department Capt. Joseph Race, “these are the worst ones.”
“A lot of people went to work and now are trying to get home,” he added. “It’s a little slick out there right now and there’s more traffic than there has been in the last few (snowstorms).”
Both Race and Clinton Police Department Chief Vincent DeMaio cautioned residents to take their time and keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
“The road conditions are pretty treacherous right now,” DeMaio said, at about 2 p.m.
“Very slick, slippery, visibility is poor,” he added. “DPW crews are out now, addressing it, but we received quite a bit of snowfall in a very limited amount of time here.”
Yet, all along the Shoreline plow trucks were out trying to keep up with the snowfall.
“The town is just out there,” Race said. “They dropped the plow and they’re running. Basically, everywhere I went so far in town I saw them, so I know they’re out there.”
In Guilford, behind the wheel of some of the public works trucks during today’s storm are three firefighters with CDL licenses.
The coronavirus reduced the staff at public works and closed down the transfer station so that contact tracing could be done.
At public works, all but one of the 17 trucks were out on the road working during the storm.
“We’re down a couple of individuals but because of the culture of collaboration between our public works team, our park and rec maintenance team and the fire department we were able to get almost a full complement,” said Hoey.
“We’re out there in force and it’s really the willingness of folks to step up and do any job when need,” he added.
The transfer station was closed after an employee at that facility tested positive for the coronavirus.
“The transfer station will be closed until it’s safe to bring all the employees back and more importantly, that it’s safe for the community so that we aren’t spreading it from that facility,” said Hoey.
Back at public works, with a delivery of 50 tons of salt on Thursday, Feb. 18 there is enough salt for this storm and at least one more, according Hoey.
“This gives us a bit of a cushion,” he said.
“We’re good now through at least Monday’s storm and possibly one more after that,” he added. “We’re still way behind the contracted allotment that we were guaranteed with our contract, but we are good right now.”
Hoey said this is his fourth winter in office and it is the first times that he can remember every received “unsolicited feedback from the community of how good a job public works has been doing,” he said. “We’ve gotten calls and emails to that effect, which has been wonderful.”
DeMaio said one big issue this time around is where to put the plowed snow. Some warm days, preceding this storm, resulted in melting, which was beneficial.
“Without the warm temperatures I think we’d have more of a problem because we’re running out of places to put the snow,” he said.
While reports that private road contractors were worried about the availability of salt, due to a major supplier closing, Old Saybrook seemed to be on top of their snow clearing for this snowfall.
State Pier in New London Port undergoing management changes as part of a state development project, one salt supplier, DRVN Enterprises has shut down and some towns are turning to New Haven Gateway Terminal for their salt, as WTNH Channel 8 News reported.
“As of right now, we’re OK,” said Larry Bonin, director of Old Saybrook Public Works. “We’re also doing a back-up with New Haven.”
“Next week the temperatures are warming up so it’s not a disaster,” he added.
Old Saybrook, Bonin noted, “goes through about 40 tons of a sand and salt mixture.” The town still uses sand on its 75 miles of roads because of all the hills in the neighborhoods.
He expects the snow to fall heaviest at 6 p.m.
“This thing is going to drag on till Saturday morning,” he said.
Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove said that the town has salt for this storm and a few down the road, but like so many other municipalities they have been receiving less than in previous years.
“We’ve been staying on top of it,” he said. “It was coming in a little bit slower. Usually, we replenish right after every storm, so we were facing the same delays getting delivery as probably most municipalities.”
Cosgrove said they presently have a couple orders in, but “it’s been coming in slower than anticipated.
“For instance, we’ll put in an order for, say 300 tons, and we’ll get maybe not even half of that,” he added. “Where it used to come as ordered, the full amount would be delivered in a day or two, but now they’re bringing it slower.”
Regardless of the timing of salt delivery, Cosgrove said the town always has a reserve of salt to get through a couple of storms.
Old Saybrook’s COVID-19 vaccine center, which opened at 3:30 p.m. today, will remain open. despite the snowstorm, according to First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Vaccines take place Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Old Saybrook Middle School, run by the Connecticut River Area Health District.
“They’re not going to close. They have no intention of closing,” he said, adding “They have every intention of serving everyone who arrives.”
Further along the shoreline, in East Lyme, Director of Public Works Joe Bragaw said snow was coming down “pretty good.
“We’re dealing with it, and it is the northeast,” he said. “It is what it is.”
Bragaw said East Lyme had 3 to 5 inches of snow on the ground as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday. He said crews came in at 7 a.m., allowing them to get a full night sleep, and began pretreating the roads.
“Any time the snow comes down as fast as it is, it’s kind of hard to keep up because the second you plow (you go to a different area) and once you get back it’s like you weren’t even there,” he said.
Bragaw said one thing that would help is people keeping their cars off the road, and not travelling unless necessary. He noted that some school buses got stuck as they tried to drop students off after an early dismissal.
“(Plows) were trying to go in front of and escort the buses up hills and stuff like that to try and let them drop off kids,” he said.
Bragaw said the crews would likely be working well into the night, adding “the day hasn’t even begun.” He said it usually takes crews 4 to 8 hours to push snow back to the curb after a storm stops.
In Waterford, First Selectman Rob Brule said the town was handling the snow “great,” adding all the relevant department heads were on high alert.
“We’re pretty well organized,” he said. “I’ve got a really good team here in Waterford.”
Brule said crews were pretreating roads early in the day. He noted that Waterford had plenty of salt stockpiled, despite reports that some towns were having issues acquiring it.
“We have all 15 snow plows out,” he said. “Every truck is running. Right now we have about 3 inches.”
Brule said schools had an early dismissal, and that he asked non-essential employees to stay home. He also said the town put a parking ban in place.
“The roads are good,” he said. “The state is doing a nice job. Public works is doing a nice job and everything is good.”