BERLIN – Even with the year’s second blizzard arriving on a holiday weekend, an immediate response and round the clock work had Berlin cleaned up and running in a short period of time.
“We were prepared,” said Mike Gibbons, Director of Public Works, referring to the town’s level of readiness when heavy snowfall began Christmas evening. “The hardest part was staying out there and keeping up.”
The snowfall began on Saturday and lasted through Sunday and into the wee hours Monday, blanketing roads and shutting down businesses. Berlin crews were quick to get to work plowing streets and laying salt to combat the ice during a time when most people were at home on vacation.
“Unfortunately, we had to cut the holiday short,” said Gibbons. “We were prepared to come in Sunday, and then we found out we needed to come in on Monday, too.”
While last winter saw a massive amount of snowfall, Gibbons felt that the most recent storm was just as impressive if not more so than previous storms.
“It was a little more intense at certain points during the day,” he said. “There was a little bit more snow, and then this storm had wind too, which caused drifts.”
By Gibbons’ count, depending on where someone measured, drifts could be found over two feet high, more than enough to strand a vehicle.
Still, Gibbons asserted that the town “knew it was coming” and began the process of putting Berlin back into order even before the blizzard struck.
“We pre-treat intersections with salt,” said Gibbons, explaining how the town dealt with snowstorms. “When snow gets to about two inches, we start plowing.”
According to Gibbons, each truck used to clear roadway has a given route. If the snowfall is intense enough, as soon as a truck completes its route it might have to instantly go back and start again. If icing is severe, busy areas are re-salted.
“They did a great job with snow removal,” said Tony Carson, the Town Administrator for Berlin.
According to Carson, the Public Works Department began efforts at 8 a.m. on Sunday and worked until 8 p.m. At that point, the Water Resources Department took over, going from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. They then tagged Public Works back in. All and all, Carson revealed that the town worked constantly for well over 30 hours to clear the snow.
“There were continuous crews of seven or eight people out there,” said Carson, “and it [their work] really shows.”
Gibbons agreed that Berlin was looking well considering how hard the storm hit. With the weather heating up, he was optimistic about the snow melting away in quick order.
However, if there is a repeat of last winter’s double blizzard and another heavy snowfall is in the town’s future, Gibbons has some simple advice.
“If you don’t have to come out, then don’t,” he said, asking people not to brave roads under dangerous conditions.
Besides the accident factor, keeping people inside and vehicles out of the way helps Public Works do their job.
“When we get a snowstorm, please park off the street,” requested Gibbons. “With cars parked on either side of the street, there’s barely enough room [for plows] to get through.”