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Neighbors set to digging out after winter's first big snowstorm

Published On: Dec 22 2012 11:46:22 AM CST   Updated On: Dec 22 2012 11:51:22 AM CST
Man shoveling snow generic

A Madison man shovels his car out after a snowstorm dumped more than 20 inches on the city.


Madison-area neighbors were working to dig their cars and driveways out on Friday after the city's first big snowstorm of the season. Removing the nearly 20 inches of snow on the ground came with its own set of complications, which included taking on added snow passed along from street plows.

Stephen Rich said that plows pushed a pile of snow measuring up to his shoulders to the end of his driveway.

Rich said his initial reaction was "Oy."

He added: “You know, just [thinking] 'I am going to have to dig that out!'”

Rich said it took him hours to dig the tunnel from his cars to the cul-de-sac street.  He said he wished city plows would avoid building the mountains of snow in his driveway, and that his neighbors don’t get close to the amount of snow he does.

“The plow stops here and then moves on,” Rich explained. “And I get the snow from about half of the cul-de-sac here.”

Josh Gruley and his wife dug out their car for the second time Friday, working to move the vehicle for the plows to come through. Once more people took to the roadways, Gruley said he had to dodge the traffic as he shoveled the snow from around his parking spot. This time, the job is a tougher one.

“There's more snow, and it's a bit icier so it's a lot heavier and it's harder to get through,” Gruley said.

George Dreckmann with the Madison Streets Department said that heavier, wetter snow and the amount of it have made his crew’s job a lot more difficult.  In response to residents' complaints and frustrations, Dreckmann clarified that plows cannot avoid pushing snow toward yards and driveways.

“We're not doing any of this on purpose, you know.  It's just how these kinds of things work out,” Dreckmann said.

Dreckmann said the snowstorm was the second biggest in the city’s recorded history. For weather like this, Dreckmann said there is a system in place, and unfortunately, some roads have to come last.

“Other times, it's going to be the road less traveled,” Dreckmann said.  “We have to prioritize how we're going to get things done.”

Dreckmann strongly suggested people invest in a slow blower for large snowfalls like the more than 2 feet Madison experienced Wednesday and Thursday. He added that a simple metal shovel can help chip away at the heavy, frozen snow piles that might be causing trouble.

At Saint Mary’s Hospital, the emergency room is used to seeing a few patients every hour for snow-related injuries.

With this storm, doctors and nurses admitted a total of 12 people and only one came in on Friday. The hospital reported a number of the injuries stemmed from falls, one head injury but no cardiac arrest patients. Heart attacks are expected during a big snow storm, so Dr. Quinn Holzheimer was pleasantly surprised, he said.

“With the amount of snow, I think people are having a hard time shoveling and blowing it themselves, so maybe they're having the professionals do it,” Holzheimer said.

Holzheimer added the hospital is short-staffed during snowstorms that make travel difficult, since it’s tough for people to get into work.

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