Digging Out

Buried under a record 40 inches of snow with more than 80,000 County households and businesses without power at one point and hundreds of downed trees, Montgomery County government responded aggressively on a number of fronts to provide service to County residents. That response included highway plowing and clearing operations, assisting PEPCO workers with snowplows and tree crews to help in restoring power, establishing shelters, responding to the public safety needs of residents, recruiting volunteers for transport duty and communicating to the public.

Building on extensive planning and preparation, Montgomery County deployed 1,200 vehicles – up from 550 for the December storm – to clear 900 miles of primary and secondary routes and 4,128 lane miles of residential roads. The County called in contractors from as far away as North Carolina and Florida to tackle the clean-up, reflecting County Executive Leggett’s determination to use whatever resources necessary to dig out County neighborhoods.

County call takers handled 31,000 phone calls and email service requests. Maryland National Guard personnel and 20 Humvees assisted County Fire & Rescue (FRS) in reaching seniors and others with special needs. During the period from Sunday, February 7 to Friday, February 12, FRS made 325 welfare assistance calls. Nearly 70 volunteers with four-wheel drive vehicles also pitched in to help the County. Thanks to excellent work by the Department of General Services, only two percent of County vehicles involved in the massive operation had breakdowns or were pulled out of service during the massive effort – a striking contrast to some other jurisdictions.

"I believe Montgomery County did a good job with these recent storms," said County Executive  Ike Leggett. "But I also believe  we can always improve our performance."

As with any weather event of this magnitude, the effects and impacts on residents, work crews, first responders, businesses, and government programs and services are many and in some instances, not necessarily short-lived. The work of hauling away banked snow and ice continues. And, of course, the winter is not yet over. 

Caution Still Advised for Motorists and Pedestrians

Even now, area motorists and pedestrians should still be alert and aware of possible situations when driving and/or walking.

For example:

  • With snow melting during the daytime hours, if temperatures drop below freezing at night, black ice can occur during the night and caution in driving and walking is advised.
  • Proceed with extreme caution when approaching an intersection where the line of sight may be blocked by mounds of snow.
  • Stay alert for pedestrians walking in the roadways. Some pedestrians may be wearing hats and hoods that impede their vision and hearing, and those wearing dark clothing can be difficult to see during evening hours.

Sidewalks & Snow

This last series of storms produced record breaking snow falls and more is being forecast.  We must work together to reclaim our sidewalks and provide safe pedestrian pathways. For more on how to do this, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.

Getting the Word Out

The County website helped many residents make decisions in dealing with the two major, record-breaking snowstorms that hit the Washington DC metropolitan area between February 5 and 10.

The storms brought a 46% increase in the number of page views of the Montgomery County website.

The number of page views for the Department of Transportation increased 204%, Emergency Management was up by 203% and the press release views rose by 537%.

Leading up to, during and following the storms, the County regularly issued winter storm updates to help the public weather the extraordinary situation. Updates included snow plowing status, Ride On updates, and information regarding power outages, trash and recycling collections, opening of shelters, government facility closures and winter safety tips.

Over 150,000 subscribers to Alert Montgomery received regular, continuous updates. If you aren’t on board yet, you can subscribe now.

Additionally, Montgomery County tweeted winter storm advisories to its 2,127 Twitter followers, posted a winter storm update with weather-related safety tips on YouTube, posted numerous press releases to its 1,084 Facebook fans and emailed a Special Winter Storm Update to another 70,000 County homes.

POSTED AT: Thursday, February 25, 2010 | 5:00:00 AM |
News and Information from Montgomery County Government, Public Information Office.
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