One of our biggest challenges at this point, along with the enormous amount of snow we need to remove, is providing up-to-date information to residents. While we have tried to keep information flowing, this is a very dynamic environment demanding adjustments as circumstances change.
During storm preparation last week, we had planned for significant accumulation, though none of the forecasts called for 30” of snow with 4-5’ drifts in Southington. At 4 a.m. Friday, we called in all of our crews with plans to work them for 36 hours straight, followed by a planned break for rest and maintenance, before sending them back on the road for what we expected to be another 24-plus straight hours.
As the storm progressed and circumstances changed, the snow fall was greater than anyone predicted and the rate exceeded our ability to keep up…therefore, we realized that a break would put us too far behind so the crews continued to plow, only stopping for 90 minutes during whiteout conditions overnight Friday. At our peak, we had 43 trucks of various sizes on the road, including Town equipment, all our contractors and several extras that we were able to employ. As of now, crews have cleared 90 percent of our 200 miles of roads, with 10 percent of subdivision roads remaining impassible.
Last night, our goal was to clear a pathway on every street in town. Due to mechanical breakdowns and contractors having to depart, we were unable to do so by just before midnight, when the remaining people and equipment had to break for safety and welfare reasons. We gave our people and contractors a nine-hour break, and they have resumed work as of 9 a.m. this morning, and will continue until roads are normalized.
During the course of plowing, our public safety departments also responded to over 200 calls for service, including a half a dozen disputes, domestic violence incidents, threats, harassment and vandalism complaints. We answered 24 medical calls, almost all of which required diverting a plow from its assigned route to escort public safety vehicles. We also responded to 22 disabled motor vehicles, 13 carbon monoxide alarms (requiring fire department deployment and plow escort) and dozens of vehicle breakdowns, parking violations, minor collisions and public hazards.
Our hope is that our citizens can keep this storm in perspective. We are working very hard to clear access for our residents out of their homes, and if people are watching the news, they realize that towns throughout the state are in the same or worse shape as Southington. It is our goal to clear access routes on all roads by early afternoon, with crews transitioning to widening main roads by the end of today. But we recognize that it will take several days to completely clear our streets.
We have weather concerns about Monday including rain, freezing rain and sleet, potentially making the existing snow significantly heavier. There also is more snow forecast on Wednesday. The final challenge that must be considered is that this snow was so large that we are unable in many areas to simply push it to the side of the road, particularly downtown, which will require hauling snow away in order to completely clear the area. This is our most difficult challenge and will take us the longest to complete.
We have suspended the requirement to clear sidewalks until further notice.
I have been in contact with school Superintendent Joe Erardi, who is discussing school openings with his counterparts this evening and plans to provide information to the public when he is able.
Thank you for helping us get this information to our citizens. We will provide updates as changes to this information requires.
Town Manager Garry Brumback