Tri-town residents clean up, dig out after winter storm

Jan 5, 2018

Residents of the tri-town spent the weekend thawing out and chipping away at a layer of ice, after a strong winter storm on Thursday, January 4.

Snow plows were a common sight the next day in all three towns. The Rochester Police Department warned residents via social media that the safest speed on many town roads, even after plowing, was around 30 miles per hour, due to slush and ice.

Cleanup became difficult for several town departments, as the continued cold temperatures hindered efforts. Rochester Highway Surveyor Jeff Eldridge said the storm kept his crew busy all day.

"There were trees down, wires down, wind, snow, ice," he said. "It pretty much turned to ice right away."

Eldridge said once temperatures hit about 22 degrees, salt isn't as effective at melting the ice off the roads.

"You can't [clean it up]," he said. "You put the salt down, but you still need traffic and sun to help break the ice up. It's not magic. But under 22 degrees, the salt won't really help."

In Mattapoisett, Highway Surveyor Barry Denham said that the high winds brought wires and trees down, and prevented his department from doing its job at times.

"There was one area we couldn't access because wires were down," he said. "We had to wait until the electric company came and got everything cleaned up so we could plow."

Denham said that his department had pretreated the roads, and was counting on that to prevent ice. However, the rain before the snow disrupted that plan.

"We got that one inch of rain and it washed the pretreatment off," he said. "And then it snowed faster than we could respond to it. With the low temperatures we couldn't handle it."

The department continued to treat the roads every day after the storm, despite the cold, and finally saw results as the temperatures rose into the high 30s on Monday and Tuesday.

"We dealt with it, but thank God the temperatures are back up and things are melting now," Denham said.

Marion Police Chief John Garcia said that despite the harsh storm, his department didn't have too much to deal with.

"We didn't have a lot to do," he said. "There were a couple motor vehicle accidents, a couple downed trees and a couple of arcing wires, but it was pretty mild as far as storms go."

Marion Fire Chief Brian Jackvony echoed that, and said that his department didn't have to spend a lot of time chasing loose or downed wires.

"We had a minimum amount of calls about arcing wires and wires down, which was surprising," he said.

However, Jackvony did say that there were quite a few calls about car accidents.

"We had some calls on I-195 about accidents," he said. "We had one trauma call and one extrication. There were a few calls there."

Jackvony said the Fire Department was prepared for the storm by staffing Station 2 on Point Road as well as adding extra staff at the station on Spring Street.