The Big Dig Begins | WYPR

The Big Dig Begins

Jan 25, 2016

A snowy Baltimore street
Credit Jonna McKone
Maryland began digging out from under an historic snowfall yesterday with shovels, snow blowers and in one case, even a dustpan. 

For the record, as much as two feet of snow blanketed Central Maryland and more than three feet of snow covered Western Maryland. At one point state officials ordered Interstates 70 and 270 closed as several accidents involving multiple tractor trailers snarled the roads. Elsewhere Marylander's apparently listened to pleas from state and local officials to stay off the roads and let highway crews do their jobs.

Gregory Johnson, head of the State Highway Administration, said Sunday most of the main roads had been cleared, but secondary roads were still covered and that it will take a while to get to them.

BGE reported some 10,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm, but most of them had been restored Sunday.

When the sun finally came out Sunday morning, the residents of Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood grabbed their snow shovels and started to dig out their cars.

Joe Petrocelli had been shoveling around his car for an hour at mid-morning, but said it will “probably be another couple of days” before he goes anywhere.

Alissa Murray, however, said she was driving to work Monday morning, no matter how long it took.

"I came out at, what, around 8:30 this morning?"  she said.  "I don't even know what time it is. It's like a casino, but you know, it's just everything's covered in snow. My concept of time is completely lost."

Her neighbor, Jordan McCluskey, had the same goal, but he complained about how long it was taking to move all that snow. "Hours," he said. "We’re dying."

But then, he had something to help pass the time; a bottle of champagne and a couple of Bud Lights tucked in a snow drift.  Over at Wyman Park on North Charles Street, at least 75 people were sledding after a day of shoveling.

Tommy Buckets, who lives in the Barclay neighborhood, said he’d been "shoveling for days," but he was happy the sledding was "fantastic."

"We have a good base laid down for the tubes and for the plastic trashcan lids we're on," he said. "Kids are having a great time. We have more advanced runs on the other side for the professionals. Double black diamond over there."

But then, he and the others will have to go back to digging on Monday. "We’re going to keep chipping at it," he said. "Hope it doesn't freeze up again."

Hally Herz, a school teacher from Remington, said she'd been inside all day grading papers and had a bit of cabin fever.

"I finally got outside at 3:30 and aggressively offered to help shove their cars out because I needed human contact," she said.

Although most side streets in Remington hadn't been plowed by late Sunday afternoon, many businesses were open and groups of people roamed the streets, piling into bars, restaurants, and neighborhood parks.

The normally busy streets of Annapolis were dark, creepy and eerily empty Saturday night, but by Sunday morning they were full of people starting the clean-up.

There was so much snow that even on the main drag of West Street, a car sales lot was facing a lengthy return to normal.  As George Fuentes and a partner shoveled piles of icy snow off the cars, they created a new problem. Where would they put all that snow?

"So, we're probably just going to be here a couple hours" he said. Then they’d bring in a plow "and get all the snow off the lot and then we can start moving cars, little by little."

Fuentes wasn't even sure how many cars he was dealing with. "About 20 to 25, something like that," he said. "So, it's a fun day."

It wasn't all that much fun for Dave Dantone, who started to shovel his car out of a parking spot in an apartment complex on the west side of Annapolis with a dustpan.

That’s right, a dustpan. Lucky for him, "people starting having shovels, so we all shared and we all helped each other out."

And besides, he said, his 7-year-old son got to play in the huge mounds of snow piled up by the snow removal equipment.