Baltimore mayor asks for residents' patience during snow cleanup

February 11, 2010|By Liz F. Kay | liz.kay@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

Baltimore leaders asked for city residents' patience dealing with the after-effects of an additional blanket of snow on top of the weekend's accumulations.

"Baltimore has never seen anything like this before," said Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake.

She described it as a "difficult and inconvenient time for our citizens."

"But let me be clear: This city was safe during this historic emergency," Rawlings-Blake said.

Police and firefighters responded to more than 1,200 police calls, 376 medical emergency calls and two house fires, Rawlings-Blake said.

As of 9 a.m., plows and trucks had traveled 81,000 miles clearing snow, she said. Although city plows redirected efforts toward major roadways during the height of Wednesday's storm, contractors using smaller Bobcats and backhoes remained on secondary roads, said Baltimore Transportation Director Alfred H. Foxx.

City officials were working on procuring a snow melter from Ohio and identifying other out-of-state resources.

Rawlings-Blake said she had spoken personally with the secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Because the two storms that have hit will be considered as one event, Baltimore is expected to recoup as much as 75 percent of its expenses, estimated at more than $1 million since Friday.

After city officials put out the call for private contractors, 21 have been hired to supplement efforts and 13 more are in line, Rawlings-Blake said. Money for those workers will come out of general funds, she said.

Rawlings-Blake called on "any able citizen" with a snow blower or shovel to help clear sidewalks especially for elderly neighbors, as well as storm drains and fire hydrants.

"This city is not clear until your street is clear, so let's do this together," she said.

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