Still reeling from a blizzard that dropped almost three feet of snow on town, Manchester officials held a press briefing in Town Hall Monday afternoon to update residents on the status of the town's progress clearing the roads and disposing of the snow. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman also stopped by to talk with town officials and gauge Manchester's progress.
"All the roads in Manchester are passable," Mayor Leo V. Diana said at noon Monday, Feb. 11 2013. "Public Works did a tremendous job and we want to thank them."
General Manager Scott Shanley said that the word "passable" meant that the roads could be traversed be vehicles, and that efforts now would focus on widening roadways and improving lines of sight.
Diana said the blizzard was the single largest snowfall to hit Manchester since the 1880s and dropped an estimated 35 inches of snow on portions of the town.
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"It will be messy for days to come as our crews continue to dig out," Diana said. "This is the largest single snow event since the 1880s. I ask everyone to help your neighbors and I'm personally thankful that only two customers in Manchester lost power."
as two separate incidents involving plow trucks and electrical equipment resulted in power outages on West Middle Turnpike and the Buckland Hills area.
Wyman, who has been up and down the state in the last several days touring the most heavily affected areas, said she was impressed by the progress she witnessed in Manchester. She said many parts of the state have roads that are still not passable.
Like Diana, Wyman urged residents to be patient and courteous to one another, and to plow drivers and first responders on the roads. She asked residents to check up on elderly or disabled neighbors who might be struggling to clear snow or walkways or who could use some extra assistance in the next few days.
"We're asking people to be aware that this will end, sometime," Wyman said. "We will see the sidewalks again sometime. Just not right away."
Public Works Director Mark Carlino said that crews were called in at 7 a.m. Friday morning and worked straight through to 9 p.m. Saturday evening clearing roads and snow before being sent home to rest until Sunday morning. Carlino said that crews were only off the roads for approximately two hours during the storm, and that that was a safety procedure.
"For safety's sake our crews stopped working for two hours and that was when we were getting snowfall rates of four inches an hour," Carlino said.
Carlino said plows were sent to monitor fire houses during that time in case of emergencies.
Over the weekend, there were approximately 92 emergency calls in town, including 72 that were medical related. Diana said that 30 of those calls had to be accompanied by PUblic Works staff and equipment.
"That was diverting some of public works from plowing, to take care of these emergency medical needs," Diana said.
Shanley said those emergencies included four instances of cardiac arrest. Manchester Fire, Rescue and EMS officials confirmed two fatalities in town during the storm, but would not specify causes of death.
Carlino said some plows and equipment got stuck in the snow and had to be extracted by payloaders, slowing plowing efforts down further.
Diana again asked residents to be patient and courteous to each other and town crews over the next few days and said the blizzard was the equivalent of six or seven significant snowstorms at once.
"If you could just imagine how long it took you to (clear) your driveway compared to how long it normally takes," Diana said. "That's the same multiplication that we're dealing with here."