Road crew details ‘worst’ storm


By Glenn Battishill - [email protected]



The view of downtown Delaware during the storm last weekend. Public Works Supervisor Fred Crist said the wind and snow reduced visibility to a quarter of a mile at times.

The view of downtown Delaware during the storm last weekend. Public Works Supervisor Fred Crist said the wind and snow reduced visibility to a quarter of a mile at times.


Courtesy photo | City of Delaware

The City of Delaware’s “Ice Team” poses in front of the city’s salt storage.


Courtesy photo | City of Delaware

Members of the City of Delaware Public Works Department called last week’s storm one of the worst they’d seen as crews worked around the clock to clear the roads over the weekend.

Nathaniel McCoy, operations manager for the Public Works Department, said Wednesday crews began preparing for the storm days ahead of time, which included preparing vehicles and coming up with contingency plans.

“We start planning for the snow event well ahead of when it actually happens,” McCoy said. “We make sure our trucks are ready and working properly. As the event gets closer, we go through different scenarios (of what could happen). A couple days ahead of time we’ll tell the crews that we’re going to go to 12-hour shifts.”

McCoy said crews got began treating the roads around 7 p.m. on Dec. 22, and they focused on priority 1 roads, such as all the highways and state routes in the city as well as frequently traveled roads.

However, crews began experiencing difficulties due to the weather.

“The winds were one of the difficult things,” McCoy said. “Whenever you have the light powdery snow that we had with this storm there are periods of time where there were whiteout conditions for the drivers, so that made it difficult.”

Fred Crist, a Public Works Department supervisor, said the wind and cold was bad for visibility and for making progress.

“It was the worst storm I’ve been a part of because of the temperatures,” Crist said Wednesday. “(There were times when) visibility was less than a quarter mile. It was really bad at some points. You couldn’t get ahead. We didn’t leave priority 1 streets that first night at all.”

Crist said his routes were U.S. 23 and U.S. 42, and he traveled 210 miles on those highways during his 12-hour shift. He said the entire department drove 5,100 miles during the snow event, which he said is the equivalent of driving to Los Angeles, California, and back plus 800 miles.

Crist added it was “all hands-on deck” for the storm, with refuse and utility workers being brought in to plow and treat the roads. He said crews worked 570 overtime hours and used 460 tons of salt.

McCoy said the city focused on priority 1 and 2 roads, which are major residential streets, from Thursday to Saturday because the wind kept undoing much of their work.

“We focused on (those roads) more than we normally would have because the drifting from the wind,” McCoy said. “We could plow them off and then a few hours later they would have drifted back. That was one of the struggles we had with the high winds. Sunday was when we could start on residential streets.”

McCoy said the temperature also made the salt mixture less effective and required the department to change the mix and include an additive to fight the cold.

Crist said the temperatures also caused mechanical problems and that at a certain point, half of the trucks were frozen. He added the department has real-time GPS track on all the trucks to make sure no routes were missed, and the starting points of the routes are chosen to make sure refuse collection continues uninterrupted.

McCoy said he’s proud of the drivers who worked during the storm.

“(The long shifts) can be difficult, but we’re here to serve the public,” McCoy said. “We have their best interest in mind and (want to keep) everyone safe on the roads. We have a great crew, and all the credit goes to those guys who are out there. They work really hard.”

The view of downtown Delaware during the storm last weekend. Public Works Supervisor Fred Crist said the wind and snow reduced visibility to a quarter of a mile at times.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/12/web1_thumbnail_image0-2-.jpgThe view of downtown Delaware during the storm last weekend. Public Works Supervisor Fred Crist said the wind and snow reduced visibility to a quarter of a mile at times. Courtesy photo | City of Delaware

The City of Delaware’s “Ice Team” poses in front of the city’s salt storage.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/12/web1_PW-Street-Operations-Staff-Photo.jpgThe City of Delaware’s “Ice Team” poses in front of the city’s salt storage. Courtesy photo | City of Delaware

By Glenn Battishill

[email protected]

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.