Officials: Township Handled Snowstorm Efficiently

The storm, however, cost restaurants some business.

Thursday's New Year's Eve storm didn't end up being too bad. The snow stopped relatively early in the morning, and the freezing rain that followed later in the day didn't cause too much damage.

But a large winter storm two weeks ago dropped nearly a foot of snow on the area and threw many for a loop. Here, we take a look at how it affected the township.

Due to the snowstorm on Dec. 19, Chatham Township received a white Christmas. And thanks to the Township Department of Public Works, residents saw the snow on their lawns, but not on the roads.

In order to clear the eight to 10 inches of snow rapidly accumulating on the pavement, the department pulled an all-nighter. According to township DPW Director Joe Barilla, members worked a total of 16 hours from Saturday afternoon up until the morning of Dec. 20.

"It can be tough, anything after 12 hours," Barilla said. He added that he brought his men inside for frequent breaks. To restore lost energy, some plowers took naps as well.

They "gain their composure back, then we went back out and plowed again," Barilla said.

Pulling all-nighters isn't infrequent for a plowing operation, he said. And due to the weather predictions, staff realized it was likely they'd be up all night.

"Fifty percent of the time, if they're forecasting anything over four inches of snow, we almost know it's going to be an extended shift," Barilla said.

During snowstorms, workers start plowing after the precipitation piles up to about 2 1/2 inches, Barilla said. A plower is assigned a specific road or network of roads to uncover. Overall, there are 14 plow routes in the township.

"Depending on how hard it's snowing, we will continue the plowing process," he said. That means after workers finish plowing his or her particular route, they starts again at the beginning to shovel off more accumulated snow.

While Barilla said the storm was easy enough to deal with, there was one minor roadblock—it was Saturday night.

"There were a number of Christmas parties," he said. "People were parking on the streets."

Plows avoided parallel-parked cars, serving around them until midnight rolled around. By then, most cars were off the roads, and workers scraped up the excess snow.

"We completely plowed from curb to curb," Barilla said.

He added that after the snow stopped accumulating, the department sanded and salted the roads, something especially important in a hilly town like Chatham.

"We need to get the roads melted down and black as soon as possible," Barilla said.

He added that with the exception of the parallel parked cars, the operation went smoothly.

"It was a relatively easy storm to deal with," Barilla said. "The snow was light, which made it easy to move."

During the storm, however, business in Chatham was anything but easy. It was sluggish, which is unusual for the holiday season.

On Saturdays, Danielle's An Italian Bistro is usually buzzing with 50 or 60 patrons. But Manager Henry Sanchez said the final headcount was "about six" on Dec. 19.

Meanwhile, on Southern Boulevard, patrons also slowed to a trickle at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, an establishment which usually serves 500 to 600 guests. The restaurant closed an hour and a half early, at 8pm.

"We did pretty poorly," said waiter Ken Sullivan.


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