DPW Clears Away Snow Within 30 Hours of Start to Blizzard
Public Works says plowing operations went smoothly and didn't encounter any obstacles earlier this week cleaning up from the blizzard. A coastal flood advisory was also in effect, but there was only minor flooding on Tibbetts Avenue.
Winter's first nor'easter dumped about 16 inches of snow and whipped through town with biting winds, but the storm met its match in Danvers' ever ready Department of Public Works this week.
A few hours behind schedule, the blizzard came up against prepared public works crews who cleaned up the town's 140 miles of roads in just under 30 hours from when the snow started to fall on Sunday. Crews worked on the roads and streets here almost two hours before the first snowflake hit the ground, treating the pavement to help prevent icing and frozen snow from sticking to plowed streets.
"We heard the predicted time for the storm to hit us was around noon [Sunday]...so we had crews out before that treating the streets," said DPW Director of Operations Robert Lee. He said initial snow flurries also caused slippery road conditions.
Lee's precaution made the post storm cleanup easier for the road crews Tuesday, as they returned to Danvers' streets and roads to remove the final vestiges of the storm.
The snow removal crews worked non-stop from 6 a.m. Sunday until 3 p.m. Monday to clear town roadways, public parking lots and around municipal buildings without incident or delay, Lee said. The operation used 27 pieces of town equipment and 45 privately contracted plows run by a combination of 72 town and private employees with an additional nine town mechanics and checkers.
Lee said the decision was made later Sunday morning to call in all DPW plowers and sanders as well as all private contractors by 2 p.m. By 3 p.m., all that equipment was out working on the roads.
Information was not yet available on how much the town spent on the cleanup. On the first snowfall last Monday, which deposited two inches, the town spent nearly $25,000 to plow and sand. Danvers' snow budget is $657,087, which factors in plows for eight storms in addition to separate sanding and salting.
The sidewalks were cleaned Monday and Tuesday by town crews driving small sidewalk plows followed by larger backhoes and trucks used to cart away the snow. Lee said the crews were out before 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
"Some people still called in to complain about the drifts blowing across the streets, making it tough to drive in some places, but we know that we have been out there cleaning the streets," Lee said.
Even after the worst of the storm abated early Monday afternoon, strong winds continued to gust at up to 50 mph.
"We can't prevent the wind from blowing the snow around. We get back to those spots as quickly as we can to remove the drifted snow," Lee explained. "We do our best to keep up on the after effects of the storm, too," he said.
Although Danvers is not directly on the ocean, tides and storm surges affect the town's tidal perimeter along the Danvers River and its estuaries.
Lee had crews out at Liberty Street near Pope's Landing and at Tibbetts Avenue near the Danvers River inlet off Route 62 to watch for ocean storm surges as the tide came in. The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory for Monday as the worst of the storm was predicted to peak early that morning with the high tide.
The tidal area around Tibbetts Avenue had some water cross over the street, but it didn't do any property damage, according to Lee. The tide stopped about six inches below the level of the surface pavement on Liberty Street.
"We were surprised," Lee said. "We expected Liberty Street to get covered, and it went the other way around," he said.
With temperatures rising into the mid-20s on a clear day Tuesday, some of the pavement on the streets dried up in the direct sunlight. Smaller sidewalk plows cleared the public walkways. City backhoes followed the small sidewalk plows and scooped up the snow thrown off the sidewalks and dumped it into trucks for disposal.
In terms of other public safety issues, police and fire units did respond to several medical aid calls and car accidents throughout the duration of the storm, but Acting Fire Chief Kevin Farrell said there were no serious accidents or injuries in any of the incidents as a result of the weather.
Lee, who has only worked in Danvers for the past few months, came to town from Pepperell, where he served as the DPW Director and town engineer.
He said the crew he called in for this storm worked together well - their experience and knowledge of the area made a difference in the success of the operation.