Just when you think winter couldn't get any worse, it's about to. The latest weather forecast is for as much as two feet of more blowing and drifting snow. In itself this is difficult enough, but we're Mainers, a foot is just good traction. However, another two feet of new snow added to the snow we already have on the ground and banks along the roads can cause serious problems if we are not prepared. We will need your help and patience over the next few days.
Our public works crew has been doing everything they can to open roads and push back snow to make room for more snow, but we need to make everyone aware that we are running out of spaces to put it. That will mean, for a period of time, roads will likely become more narrow than they are now. At some points during the storm roads in the village could be reduced to a single lane. Further, the expected wind and drifting will likely make it harder and harder for our crews to keep up with it throughout the day on Sunday and into Monday.
The Rockport Public Works employees have been and will continue to be doing the best job that they can. None of them believe that they are just doing a job; they take their work very seriously and will do whatever it takes to keep the roads clear for emergency responders and residents.
Please keep in mind, that while we are all home safe and warm watching storm center, we are sending these employees out into the worst of the storm, in a big truck sporting a wing on the side, often at night when the visibility is at its worst. The snow is blowing onto their windshields and over the plow blade making it impossible to see much in front of them. They will likely hit more mailboxes. As much as it seems like to, they really are not trying to hit them. Often it is the volume and the weight of the snow coming off of the blade that knocks them down. Sometimes it is just not possible to avoid them.
A storm like this will force our public works crews to be on the road for long stretches of time with little time for food or rest before they are back out doing it again. They will likely be out and away from their own homes and families from Saturday afternoon until Monday afternoon, possibly longer. How can you help?
If possible, stay off the roads.
First, stay off the roads for your own safety.
Second, if you go off the road, which is very possible, we will likely need to send an emergency response crew to the scene, putting them at risk and diverting resources from what they should be doing.
Third, wherever you think you are going will likely be closed, anyway.
Prepare now for the storm so that you don't need to go out, and so you'll be OK even if you lose power for a while.
And one last thing: Please keep an eye out for your neighbors and any elderly people you know.
CONTINUING SAFETY MESSAGES: Do not travel during blizzard.... Reduce snow loads on roofs where possible before this storm..... Keep snow cleared from exterior wall heating appliance or other home appliance vents.... Check on neighbors.....If generators are used, used wisely to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning..... Take precautions to prevent freezing skin during periods with very low wind chill temps... Downed wires are not safe to touch....
Rick Bates is the Rockport Town Manager.