Heavy snow makes storm a tough lift

Warwick Beacon ·

Sunday’s was the first “big snowstorm” for Mathew Solitro in his role as acting director of the Department of Public Works.

“I would say I hate snow officially,” Solitro said with a laugh when asked how he and the city made out.

The official answer for how the city coped with 10 to 11 inches of heavy wet snow, according to members of the City Council who were out monitoring conditions in their wards, is “very well.”

It was a weekend for plows that started early Saturday morning and was still in process by Monday afternoon.

Solitro, who commended his staff, said the Saturday storm was cleaned up and crews went home about 3:30 p.m.

Barely 15 hours later, at 8 p.m. on Sunday, five sanders were out on the roads again as the first heavy flakes started to fall. More crews reported as the storm built, until 62 trucks – including private contractors – were on the roads.

“It didn’t let up,” Solitro said of the snow, which kept coming until mid-morning Monday. With it, limbs came down along with some wires. Some streets, like Hardig Road, were impassable when cars slid out blocking the road about 8 a.m. Monday.

But the punch didn’t leave the city reeling.

Solitro said no accidents involving city plows were reported. And remarkably, given the conditions, Police Capt. Michael Forde said that as of Monday at noon there hadn’t been a single storm-related accident in the city. He said the department responded to several cases where residents had not heeded the parking ban issued Sunday.

“It’s been good considering. I guess everybody stayed in,” Forde said. He said the department received a number of calls about downed branches and reports of power outages.

Ted Kresse, information officer for National Grid, said that more than 2,500 Warwick customers lost power during the storm. The largest outage, attributed to a “breaker lockout” at the Lincoln Avenue substation, impacted 2,362 customers who lost power at about 4 a.m. Power was restored in three hours and 24 minutes, he said.

Statewide, he said, 12,000 customers experienced outages during the storm, with a peak of 9,500 outages at 7 a.m. Monday.

Solitro said the decision was made at 6 a.m. Monday to delay sanitation and recycling collections by one day this week. As some people put out bins the night prior to the collection day and in some cases those bins were toppled when plows pushed snow to the edge of the road, Solitro suggested in situations where a snowstorm is forecast that people wait until the morning. A notice will be posted on the city website as to whether collections will be postponed.

Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur, who spent Monday morning assessing conditions, reported some collection bins had been placed so close to the road that plows had had to go around them. He said he received only one call from a constituent about being blocked in because of a mound of snow left by a plow and that was on West Shore Road, a state plowed road. He was pleased with the city’s response to the storm.

Calling it a “tough one” because of the weight of the snow, Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix rated the overall response of the city as “very good.” He noted some streets were cleared quickly while he made calls on a few. He thought delays could be attributed to private contractors new to the routes. He didn’t receive any calls on downed trees or wires.

Solitro was hopeful his crews would get a break – and some sleep – as the forecast is for colder weather but no snow. He also amended what he had to say about snow.

“I love snow,” he said, “just when I’m not at work.”