Digging Out After The Storm

Removing Historic Amounts of Snow in New Haven

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A Volvo dump truck unloads snow in New Haven.
Getting rid of all the snow
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Getting rid of all the snow

After this weekend’s historic blizzard, it’s still slow going inmuch of New Haven County. Crews continue working day and night in New Haven to clear and widen the streets. Their main concern is figuring out what to do with all the snow.

 Rich Solomon’s been here since 6:45 this morning. He’s in downtown New Haven driving a Volvo dump truck to haul snow off the city streets. Right now his truck is empty, but it’s about to be filled by a payloader with 20 tons of snow. It’s a pretty quick process.

 “It takes about five minutes, ten minutes, all depends if they have enough material on the ground," he says. 

It’s can also be a little bit of a bumpy one. After all, these are huge mounds of snow being dumped into the back of Solomon’s truck. Although, it depends: “If it sticks to the bucket and it falls in, you can feel it. If it doesn’t stick in, you can’t feel it at all.”

The bumping sound we can hear means this mound of snow definitely sticks to the bucket and falls in.

Solomon’s truck is one of dozens that New Haven is bringing in to remove the record amounts of snow here. Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Black says there’s just no other way to clear the streets. Even after plows have gone through them, they’re one lane short because of the mountains of snow piled on the sides. 

“The street got widened enough. But there’s no way they can put them on the side of the street," he explains. "They have to haul it out of here. There’s just too much snow.”

Black says the city was prepared. On his wish list, though…a vehice that can move through 40 inches of snow. The city  resorted to bulldozers to help move stuck Humvees and fire engines even as the storm began.

 “We started getting calls where fire engines were getting stuck,and we had chains pn the fire engine, and I couldn’t believe we were already getting stuck. It was coming down at such a rapid pace," he recalls. 

For the moment, all the snow goes to a huge empty lot of grass at the intersection of Route 34 and Yale Avenue, near Yale’s athletic fields and football stadium. Once that’s exhausted, there are a few other private lots the city owns. Street by street, the city will remove all the snow that’s necessary.

But they won’t, unfortunately, dig out the snow encasing my car.