WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — More than 24 hours after the winter storm started, the cleanup is well underway in large and small communities. It’s a pretty tall task in bigger cities.
That cleanup started as soon as the snow began accumulating Wednesday. Today, crews moved into a second day for a job that won’t end even when this day is done.
Getting out from under a heavy snowfall in Wilkes-Barre requires heavy equipment. The city used bulldozers to clear some of its more than 600 roads.
“We’ve experienced one of the worst snowstorms in such a short period of time that I’ve ever experienced here in my 17 years in the city of Wilkes-Barre,” said Wilkes-Barre Director of Operations Butch Frati.
Even though city officials say 16 DPW trucks were out at a time with crews working 16 hour shifts, it may have seemed like they were outmatched when the roughly foot or more of snow was falling at its heaviest.
“It was so intense but we were able to keep up with it as best as we could. There were times we would plow a street and ten minutes later it looked like we never plowed the street,” said Frati.
So the question is what to do with all that snow?
Butch Frati says, “And we’re going to leave this here and let it melt gradually.”
One big pile was pushed to a corner of the City Hall parking lot. The city has other locations at its disposal including the former Sterling Hotel parking lot. And then there are also sides of streets where no parking is permitted like one side of Church Street near Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre.
“Our objective was to get the hospital, streets around the hospitals cleaned first and then secondly the bridges. Now, we’re working on the neighborhoods,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown.
One of those neighborhoods is South Wilkes-Barre where Anna and Mark Wadas live and are doing their own digging.
“Carey Avenue, I’ve never seen it this clean in the past years for a storm that hit last night, we wouldn’t normally be able to get out until tomorrow,” said Anna Wadas.
That might be the reality for some city residents living along smaller side roads, courts and alleyways.
“So, I ask the folks in the neighborhoods to please give us a chance. It’s a heavy storm. A lot of snow to move. Give us a little time but we will get the neighborhoods cleaned up,” said Mayor Brown.
Brown says the city is in good shape with its rock salt supply, including some leftover from last winter. While he doesn’t want to see a storm like this happen anytime soon, he says the Diamond City is ready for the next one.
Mayor Brown says the storm is a reminder that Wilkes-Barre DPW needs to be properly funded.
It’s a financial dilemma currently being worked out in the city’s 2021 budget.