It began to snow. And then it snowed and snowed. It stopped then it started again. The record snowfall of 2010.
I used to talk nostalgically to my three children about the blizzards of 1979, 1983, 1996, and 2003. Now they have lived through the biggest one of all. They got to relive the famous Fred Maroon photo of Wisconsin Avenue taken on February 19, 1979.
First, some observations and facts. The snow started late Friday night. At 6 p.m., it was still coming. By 11 p.m., it was real snow. It snowed until 10 p.m. Saturday night. It was a steady, heavy snowfall. The city had been preparing for several days and our fleet of 250+ vehicles, as well as our contractors, were out in force.
The plan is to always clear the main streets first so that emergency vehicles and public transportation can get through. As soon as they are done, the City hits the residential streets. However, no sooner did the main streets get plowed than they filled right back up with snow. By Saturday night, we had two feet of snow everywhere.
It took all of Sunday and Monday to get the main streets plowed and then it snowed again. Beginning Monday night and through Tuesday, another 20 inches fell. Same story. By then the main streets were again covered and residential streets had up to three feet of snow on them.
The point being that it was not possible to stay ahead of these storms because of their duration and consistency. Being from upstate Pennsylvania, I have experienced this many times as a youth. This partially answers why the residential streets were not plowed early on.
Several persons asked why my street, P Street, was plowed. P Street is one of the three main bus/emergency vehicle routes into Georgetown (the others being M Street and Wisconsin Avenue) and is always plowed in the initial stages of a storm.
On Wednesday, the big clean up began. I was personally in contact with Mayor Fenty, DDOT Director Gabe Klein, and DPW Director Bill Howland through this entire period. Also, thanks to Ron Lewis, ANC Chairperson, and ANC Commissioners Ed Solomon, Bill Starrels, and Tom Birch for their constant help.
The mayor and I walked the streets of Ward 2 Wednesday through Saturday identifying potentially problematic areas. By Saturday, Feb. 13, almost every street in the ward had been plowed in some fashion. In Georgetown, because the streets are so narrow and have cars parked on both sides, it was a particular challenge and necessitated smaller equipment.
I want to thank everyone for their patience and participation. And it is not over yet.
The author is a city councilmember representing District Ward 2.