Little rest for the weary workers who have been driving snowplows Is relief on the way? No

just more snowfall

January 11, 1996|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Donna Engle, Anne Haddad, Mary Gail Hare and Jackie Powder contributed to this article.

After almost a week of clearing snow from Carroll County's roads, Benton Watson finally got to go home about 1 p.m. yesterday.

Even then, Carroll's road maintenance chief wasn't able to get his well-deserved sleep. "Now, I've got to start clearing my own driveway out," Mr. Watson said with a laugh.

County employees, who had plowed around the clock Tuesday night, spent most of the day at home yesterday and were set to return to work at 4 a.m. today to begin plowing roads to their normal two-lane widths.

As of noon yesterday, all of Carroll's roads were open in at least one direction, Mr. Watson said. Three gravel roads in the northern section of the county -- Beggs Road, Boggs Road and Schalk Road No. 2 -- had been the hardest to clear, forcing crews to use backhoes and dump trucks for the job, he said.

"With the wind starting again, that puts things in a different light," Mr. Watson said, noting that crews hope to have all 920 miles of county-maintained roads widened to at least 1 1/2 lanes by late this evening.

Meanwhile, many street crews and contractors in Carroll's eight municipalities began hauling snow away from parking lanes on the main streets yesterday.

In Westminster, road crews were dumping snow on a Winters Street lot that is slated to become a city park later this year, and Manchester workers were dumping snow down a ravine at Christmas Tree Park.

But in most other towns, officials were running out of places to put the snow.

"We need something with a bucket to pick it up and haul it out of here," said Hampstead Town Manager Neil Ridgely, adding that plows are useless.

"One of the biggest difficulties is in townhouse developments with median strips," he said. "You have so many vehicles in a small area that it's very difficult to find any place to put the snow."

Officials widening the snow-lined streets yesterday also risked the ire of residents who were tired of digging out their driveways every time a plow went down the road. Westminster Streets Supervisor Donald Gross gave up rather than risk the wrath of city residents.

"People have to realize that this is a major storm and people are going to have to be willing to do a little shoveling," said Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones.

"I know what a pain this is to everybody, with it being difficult to travel and driveways and mailboxes being blocked," Mr. Watson said. "But the real impact is on the employees who've had to work this many hours."

However, officials also said the blizzard brought out the best in people, as residents joined together to dig out neighbors and drive employees or patients to local health centers.

"Nobody's missed a treatment," said Ed Kercheval, a registered nurse at Mason Dixon Dialysis Center in Westminster.

With the help of Westminster's Maryland Army National Guard unit, dialysis patients were able to ride to the center in the group's "Humvees" to receive a treatment that cleans the blood during kidney failure.

Missed dialysis treatments can cause fluid to build up in the lungs and heart, leading to an increase in blood pressure, Mr. Kercheval said. The center -- usually open Monday, Wednesday and Friday -- was forced to close Monday. It reopened Tuesday.

In Mount Airy, Mayor Gerald Johnson let the snow on his driveway wait while he drove patients to Catoctin Regional Dialysis Center.

"I called the National Guard, but they said they were too overwhelmed," Nursing Director Mindy Cohen said. "Bless the mayor's heart. Without him, we would have really been stuck."

At Carroll County General Hospital, 50 volunteer drivers with four-wheel-drive vehicles shuttled employees to the hospital and home again from Sunday to Tuesday. The drivers also took Westminster Nursing and Convalescent Center employees to work, said Emily Runser, a human resources specialist at the hospitals.

"The community has been wonderful," said hospital spokeswoman Gill Chamblin. "So many people have called in to volunteer."

Early Monday morning, when plowing on main roads had just begun, one volunteer driver went to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore to pick up a rare drug needed to stabilize a Carroll County General patient, Ms. Runser said.

The volunteer left for Baltimore at 12:30 a.m. and returned to Westminster at 4 a.m. with the medication, she said.

Volunteer fire companies around Carroll opened their doors, and their cots, to road crews all weekend long, enabling snowplow drivers to get a few hours of sleep before they hit the streets again, Mr. Watson said.

Many residents moved their vehicles off the street, making cleanup much easier for county road crews, he said.

"We tried to give neighborhoods [curb-to-curb clearing] where they helped by moving their cars," Mr. Watson said. "Also, there weren't many abandoned vehicles, which made things much easier."

But even as road crews around the county cleaned up from last weekend's mess, they kept an eye on the forecast, which calls for several more inches of snow tomorrow.

"That will be an absolute nightmare," Mr. Watson said. "I don't know where we will put the snow. I guess we'll treat it just like this one."

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