City Digging Out to Get Middletown 'Back to Normal'

Dan Drew says Middletown received 36 inches of snow from this weekend's blizzard, with drifts of four feet or more, however several priorities unique to the city's size and infrastructure have slowed the clearing process.


12:10 p.m. Russell Library will be closed Monday.

11:30 a.m. Mayor Drew is now sending a recorded storm message via telephone that reiterates the below and asks for residents' patience.

Sunday 9:30 a.m.

As Middletown schoolchildren awoke Sunday to find that Superintendent of Schools Patricia Charles had closed all public schools Monday, Mayor Dan Drew sent out this press release, which indicates he's hoping to have all city streets at least "passable" by Sunday evening.

I’d like to update you on the status of our cleanup. Our plow crews have been operating around the clock since Friday morning. Middletown was one of the hardest hit cities in the state, receiving more than three feet of accumulation in some places with even deeper snowdrifts in other places. Our crews continue to work consistently and diligently.

Our goal is to make each street passable by tonight, but we ask for your understanding as the magnitude of this historic snowfall has presented unique challenges in our cleanup operation. We received more snowbetween Friday and Saturday mornings than we normally do in an entire winter.

The snowfall was so heavy that several of our plow trucks became stuck or were unable to move the large drifts that accumulated. In order to make the roads passable for our largest plow trucks, we have mobilized our industrial-sized snow blowers attached to Public Works’ front end loader, road graders, and pay loaders.

Our plows cannot adequately clear the streets until those pieces of equipment can make a first pass. We were also experiencing significant winds blowing snow back onto roads that had already been cleaned, necessitating multiple passes on many roads.

I am very appreciative of your patience and understanding during our response. We received such significant snowfall that our plow trucks have spent most of Friday night, Saturday, and last night clearing main roads and critical public safety infrastructure. We are working to get residential streets cleared as quickly as possible.

We have also diverted plow trucks off of cleaning routes to escort police, fire trucks, and ambulances to 911 calls and clear the way for electric crews torestore power. Some other cities have even called in the National Guard to assist with medical calls for this very reason.

During the height of the storm we had fire trucks and ambulances getting stuck in the snowdrifts, which required plow trucks and pay loaders to dig out.

Many people ignored the City’s parking ban and the state’s travel ban and were stuck, which forced them to abandon their cars. Those cars are now blocking roads, which require public works crews to shovel out by hand so they can be towed. We have towed more than 80 vehicles since Friday morning.

Please also remember that, although the state has lifted its travel ban, we are encouraging you to stay at home until further notice as road conditions are still not good and drivers on the road significantly slow clearing operations.

I very much appreciate your understanding as we work to dig out from this historic storm. I know it is frustrating to have such limited mobility but we are working around the clock to ensure that Middletown gets back to normal as quickly as possible.

Please stay safe. Thank you.

Original story

The mayor is asking for residents’ patience in the long and arduous process of clearing city streets of record snowfall after Friday’s blizzard dumped up to 36 inches in Middletown.

Drew says folks who are snowed in and are becoming increasingly impatient not having seen a plow throughout the storm’s duration should know the city is working at full-tilt to dig residents out.

“It’s not hyperbolic to say this is an unprecedented storm,” Drew says.

The confluence of several events have significantly delayed cleanup. “Middletown is the fourth largest town in square miles in the state, with more than 200 miles of roads. That means out of 169 municipalities, there are 165 towns smaller than us,” Drew says.

And that’s a lot of plowing. Add to that one-half of 1 percent of CL&P customers who are or were without power. The mayor says police and public works were diverted from clearing streets in order to clear the way for utility trucks to get power restored.

“We had to make sure all our critical infrastructure was open,” including Middlesex Hospital, three fire stations, police, Hunter’s Ambulance and other essential places.

Add to that public works crews who may have worked 29 of the last 35 hours.

Plow crews, Drew says, who have been out since 7 or 8 a.m. Friday morning, by law can work up to 17 hours then must sleep for three hours, followed by a 12-hour shift and three hours’ sleep. “These people are working away from their families in the worst blizzard we’ve seen in a generation,” Drew explains.

People didn’t heed the governor’s travel ban or the mayor’s parking ban, he said, which resulted in a total of 80 tows, again, diverting city services that should have been clearing streets.

Cars who get trapped, especially in the main thoroughfares, require police, fire and public works crews to assist. “They have to physically dig them out with shovels,” he says.

The entire center lane of Main Street, for example, is where public works piles snow 10 or more feet high, and 5 feet wide. Friday night into Saturday morning, Drew says, trucks trying to plow had to make their way around vehicles stuck on the roadway that hadn't heeded either the state or municipal road ban.

Adding to the delays, there have been two public works truck breakdowns and parts aren’t available, he says.

“We’ve had roofs cave in. We’ve had trucks going the wrong way down the highway. We’ve had traffic shut down one side of the Arrigoni bridge. In the midst of all that, we’re getting regular calls, everything that might happen on a 75-degree day,” Drew explains.

“We’re asking for people’s patience. We have everything firmly under control,” Drew said. “It just takes time.”

Related stories

  • Historic Blizzard Buries Middletown
  • Traffic Over Arrigoni Bridge Limited
  • How To Shovel All That Snow ... Safely
  • Malloy Says Snow Cleanup Will Take a 'Number of Days'
Concerned February 11, 2013 at 11:40 AM
My house has city workers who are dying to get out there and help...but they can't because the city has not seen fit to make a pass on our street. Very bad planning. I know everyone is working hard but it is not effective.
Jeremy Belcher February 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM
6:41 AM is 6 hours and 41 minutes later than promissed and still not the slightest peep from a plow.
Arthur Fonzarelli February 11, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Pam is on the Democrat town committee. Then it makes sense. She is looking for something.. Trust me, the DEMS are in it for themselves.. Prove me wrong Pammy! What did Lisa promise you? SHe has no power now that the "S" Family can't stand her.. Good Luck . Your comments are so over the top!
Pam Magnoli February 11, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I've been on that town committee much longer than Lisa, over 20 years as a matter of fact. Not for nothing but if I was on it because I was 'looking for something' don't you think it would have been before now? One of my biggest peeves is people joining because they 'want something' on either Dem or Rep town committee. So Fonz! Yes you are wrong! I do it because I was raised to volunteer for various community organizations you believe in...no more, no less. I have a long list of volunteer organizations I've been involved in.....YOU? Your jumping to conclusions are, in your words, so over the top! Good day ;)
Michele Sarracco February 11, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Mayor Drew this is directed to you...you knew this storm was coming why wheren't you more prepaired?? Why have you made no announcements since yesterday?? I would hand in your resignation!! Are you paying my next tax bill??


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