This is mostly in response to this post by another Baltimore native, in addition to some conversation I’ve had with him since. The feelings I have simply could no longer be expressed in 140 characters or less, and I’m not a fan of the long-form multi-tweet thought.
I realize that Baltimore is not a city in the north or in the midwest; 3 feet of snow is not something that happens every winter. After all, we tend to get a nice “wintry mix” of about 3 inches of wet snow that melts the next day and it sends most people into a blind panic. Given that the entire city hasn’t collapsed into a swirling vortex of despair, I’d say we’re doing pretty well. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think we can do better.
Given that we got hit with two storms in quick succession, a good two feet followed a few days later by another foot or so, I realize that there’s much to be done. Streets that were formerly plowed now need to be gone over again, and in the middle of a city there’s not much place for all that snow to go. However, my street was visited by a plow about an hour or two before the first flakes of second storm. That’s fine, it helps keep the total amount to be plowed next time down. Of course, that’s assuming they actually plowed. After sitting at the end of my block for a good few minutes (I’d assume they were digging out, except they’d have to have been doing it by telekinesis), they trundled down our street, plowing about halfway before lifting the scoop up and continuing on out of our block.
It’s not a terrible thing to take a break, as I’m sure those guys had probably been driving around city streets for many hours. But, if you’re actually going to resume plowing, I’d appreciate it if you plowed the whole street, and not just a little bit. Sure, it’s a business at the end of the block and not houses, but we still need to drive there. Since that time, like much the rest of the street, there is now a nice patch of packed-in snow sitting on top of a sheet of ice. Very nice.
Again, they have a whole metric shitload of snow to move all around the city, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that a silly residential side-street will get less attention than the main thoroughfares. But I actually ventured out into the city in my car for the first time since Thursday today, and I was delayed a good few minutes by a snow removal crew. The street was fine; they were clearing parking spaces. For that, I wouldn’t fault them, because I know people have been complaining about parking spaces, snow removal routes, etc. However, they weren’t in front of houses, or even a heavy business district. They were clearing spots in front of a church, and a garage (access to the garage was already available). At this point, I’d say that maybe their time would be better spent clearing out the side streets.
I say that because, after eventually getting back to our house, I had to grab a shovel and spend 20 minutes trying to break up the ice in the center of the road so that we could have enough traction to actually park in our carefully-cleaned spot. As an aside, here’s a note to other Baltimore city-dwellers: we did not put a chair in our spot; that crap is tacky. We got lucky and got our spot back but were willing to grab a shovel and make another one if need be. We shoveled a patch of pavement; doesn’t mean we own it. Back to the topic: there’s definitely an issue with organization. Could I do it better? Probably not, but I didn’t run for a seat in the city government.
If it sounds like I’m ragging on the city too hard, it’s just a form of tough love: for someplace where the average annual snowfall is less than one of two storms that hit it in a week, it’s doing pretty well. Don’t just take a pat on the back, though: there’s still work to be done, and ways it can be better. And for city residents, it’s hard to refrain from being shrill, but many snow-removal crews have been working pretty damn hard to make up for a lack of preparation, so a little slack might not be out of order.