City blanketed in nearly two feet of snow
For the first time in nearly four years, a blizzard slammed into Greater Boston on Saturday, January 29, packing gale force winds and leaving Everett buried in 22 inches of snow.
Jerry Navarra, director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), said he and his colleagues began planning for the storm a full week in advance. “We had a war room meeting on Wednesday morning,” he said.
Although the storm arrived later than expected, Navarra said, it did not take long for the weather to deteriorate, adding that the city was lashed by winds of 55 miles per hour at the height of the blizzard.
Navarra said the DPW responded with a fleet of 55 pieces snow removal equipment manned by city employees and independent contractors. “The challenging part was dealing with several hours of blizzard conditions,” he said, adding that, at times, snow was falling at two to four inches per hour. In addition, Navarra said 500 tons of salt was used to treat the roads and sidewalks.
Although the DPW has a $395,000 snow and ice budget, Navarra said he spared no expense to keep residents safe. “When it comes to safety, there is no budget,” he said.
Daniel Cameron of National Grid said fewer than 20 customers lost power during the storm. “Even though we had heavy snow accumulation, we were fortunate that due to the extremely cold temperatures, the snow was light and did not impact the trees and wires,” he said.
Although the DPW continued to put in hours of exhausting work on Sunday, January 30, Navarra could not guarantee that the sidewalks would be passable by the following morning. “To get all the sidewalks plowed was impossible,” he said, adding that the department’s manpower was also temporarily depleted. “Guys worked 30 hours – guys had to go home.”
Therefore, the decision was made to cancel school.
“These decisions are always made in conjunction with the city and DPW, who best know the road condition and clean up status,” said School Committee Member-at-Large Samantha Lambert. She also said that according to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education remote learning is not a viable alternative to snow days.
Ward 3 Councillor Anthony DiPierro said the city did well despite the adverse conditions. “The men and women of public works as well as police, fire, parking and code enforcement worked for well over 20 straight hours. These conditions were extremely difficult to keep up with, but as the storm subsided, the city got a good handle on the streets,” he said. “Unfortunately, some residents decided to throw their snow back onto the street after the plows hadbeen by, creating a mess once again. Not only is that counterproductive, it is prohibited by city ordinance and subject to fines.”