2013-02-15 / Front Page

Blizzard of 2013

Massive cleanup follows record-setting storm
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


The Scarborough Public Works Department was still hard at work clearing snow along Jones Creek Drive Tuesday, Feb. 12, three days after a winter storm brought more than two feet of snow to Scarborough. The storm closed businesses and schools and disrupted power all across Maine. For more photos, see the Leader Facebook page. (Michael Kelley photo) The Scarborough Public Works Department was still hard at work clearing snow along Jones Creek Drive Tuesday, Feb. 12, three days after a winter storm brought more than two feet of snow to Scarborough. The storm closed businesses and schools and disrupted power all across Maine. For more photos, see the Leader Facebook page. (Michael Kelley photo) Last weekend was one of little rest for Scarborough’s Department of Public Works.

Less than a day after nonstop plowing to clear the streets of Scarborough due to a storm that dropped more than 30 inches in the greater Portland area between Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb. 9, crews were back clearing snow early this week for a smaller storm that brought much less snow to the area on Monday, Feb. 11.

“The staff did their usual excellent job plowing and keeping the roads safe. We had crews on the road from 4 a.m. Friday and they were still plowing in Scarborough until noontime yesterday,” Scarborough Department of Public Works Director Mike Shaw said Monday, Feb. 11. “I sent the guys home, but they are back at it with this storm today.”


Last weekend’s storm created mountains of snow for residents all across Scarborough, including Higgins Beach, above. to clear from their driveways and sidewalks. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Jesmain) Last weekend’s storm created mountains of snow for residents all across Scarborough, including Higgins Beach, above. to clear from their driveways and sidewalks. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Jesmain) “We came through it fairly well,” said Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton. “We were prepared and had talked at length with the department heads. We were anticipating bigger problems with the tide surge, which we got through relatively unscathed.”

The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Nemo by The Weather Channel, is long over, but the cleanup continues in Scarborough and countless other communities across the state.

Shaw said for the “foreseeable future” his department will be working to clear sidewalks along major roadways and intersections, as well as additional snow removal at hard-hit areas, such as the Pine Point section of town.

He advises pedestrians and motorists to give plows plenty of room to allow them to push back snowdrifts and continue clearing snow.

“I don’t think people realize how much work goes into (cleanup) work after the fact,” Moulton said.

Shaw said one of the biggest challenges his team of 16 plow operators faced was being able to see during near white-out conditions during the height of the storm late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

“The only real challenge we had was at night with the plow drivers not being able to see the road,” Shaw said.

Many of the plow drivers, Shaw said, were aided by a request the department put on Facebook for residents to keep their porch lights on to help the plow drivers see.

“That helped them to see where they were going,” Shaw said. “It was nice for the homeowners to do that.”

To keep vehicles off the streets, Moulton put a parking ban into place from noon Friday, Feb. 8 through noon Monday, Feb. 11.

“We put the ban into effect because we knew it was going to take a long time for them to open the streets up,” Moulton said.

The ban, he said, made it easier for plow operators to move about the streets.

“The snow was blowing so hard that viability was bad and it was difficult for the plows to clear the roads. Having vehicles off the roads and not parked in the streets made it that much easier for them to get the job done,” Moulton said.

Shaw said the plow operators did a good job keeping Scarborough’s 169 miles of roadways clear, but a section of Running Hill Road from New Road to Route 114 had to be closed for several hours on Saturday due to drifting snow. He said the department wouldn’t have been able to get through the storm had it also not been for the vehicle maintenance staff who worked to fix problems as they came up to ensure the plows on the road were in good working order.

“It was a true team effort,” Shaw said.

Shaw said while regularly plowing and sanding the roads is his department’s foremost chore during storms, plow operators play another very important role during storms, including this one, which brought the most snow the area had seen in more than 30 years.

“We also monitor the police and fire channels. If a call for emergency service comes in in a plow operator’s run, they stop what they are doing and make sure the roads are clear for the emergency response,” Shaw said. “That’s one of the things we are very concerned about and pay attention to.”

The sense of teamwork between departments, such as the Department of Public Works and the Police Department, Moulton said makes Scarborough a great place to work.

“There is a great sense of cooperation between departments. When we have a situation like this, people pull together and want to do the right things,” Moulton said.

While the Department of Public Works was busy clearing Scarborough’s roads and sidewalks, the Scarborough School District’s facilities and maintenance department was hard at work making the school campuses safe after the record snowfall.

“It took a crew of our plow contractor, our school maintenance staff and Community Services staff working all weekend to get the schools ready to open with cleared roadways and walkways,” said Todd Jepson, the district’s director of buildings, grounds and maintenance.

The work to clear the oversized snow banks on the school campuses will continue, Jepson said.

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