It may be hard to believe, with the current unseasonably warm weather, that barely over a week ago, we were reeling from back-to-back storms dumping more than three feet of snow over Mount Desert Island. Residents quickly fell into a cycle of hunker down, get out and shovel, clean up and get ready for the next one.
After a comparatively mild winter last year, it looked for a few days like we were returning to the 2015 pattern in which storm after storm left most people struggling with where to put the snow.
While the latest weather may have been somewhat unpredictable, there has been one constant throughout it all. And that is the service of the intrepid men and women of our local highway departments, the Maine Department of Transportation and the runway crew at the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton – indeed, everyone who got behind the wheel of a snow plow to keep society up and running.
Last week, despite blizzard conditions with little to no visibility and snowfall rates of several inches per hour, crews kept roads passable, ensuring that emergency vehicles and those who absolutely had to go out in the storm were as safe as possible. Unlike years ago, when roads after a storm often were covered with a washboard layer of dirty, brown ice, most major highways and streets were bare within 24 hours.
In downtown areas, crews moved in swiftly to remove thousands of tons of snow from the roadsides and sidewalks, averting the usual one-lane-wide syndrome and improving safety for pedestrians. Those efforts undoubtedly reduced insurance claims for dented fenders, broken side mirrors and crunched driver-side doors.
That life in Down East Maine returns so quickly to normal after a major storm can be credited entirely to our public and private road crews. One need look no farther than mid-America, south of us, where just an inch of snow can paralyze a city for days. How much difference that local dedication, preparation and appropriate level of investment in equipment makes!
Years ago, waiting a long time to get plowed out after a storm was routine. Now, like so much in life, we take clear roads 24-7 for granted, even during the fiercest winter storms.
Our, road crews do such a good job – and carry it off with so much professionalism – that it almost looks easy, a snap of the fingers. But it is not. We owe a debt of gratitude, not only to those who keep the roads open, but also to the police, firefighters, ambulance crews and local hospital staff, who work so hard to keep us safe during a storm.