City Digging Out to Get Middletown 'Back to Normal'

Dan Drew says Middletown received 36 inches of snow from this weekend's blizzard, with drifts of four feet or more, however several priorities unique to the city's size and infrastructure have slowed the clearing process.


12:10 p.m. Russell Library will be closed Monday.

11:30 a.m. Mayor Drew is now sending a recorded storm message via telephone that reiterates the below and asks for residents' patience.

Sunday 9:30 a.m.

As Middletown schoolchildren awoke Sunday to find that Superintendent of Schools Patricia Charles had closed all public schools Monday, Mayor Dan Drew sent out this press release, which indicates he's hoping to have all city streets at least "passable" by Sunday evening.

I’d like to update you on the status of our cleanup. Our plow crews have been operating around the clock since Friday morning. Middletown was one of the hardest hit cities in the state, receiving more than three feet of accumulation in some places with even deeper snowdrifts in other places. Our crews continue to work consistently and diligently.

Our goal is to make each street passable by tonight, but we ask for your understanding as the magnitude of this historic snowfall has presented unique challenges in our cleanup operation. We received more snowbetween Friday and Saturday mornings than we normally do in an entire winter.

The snowfall was so heavy that several of our plow trucks became stuck or were unable to move the large drifts that accumulated. In order to make the roads passable for our largest plow trucks, we have mobilized our industrial-sized snow blowers attached to Public Works’ front end loader, road graders, and pay loaders.

Our plows cannot adequately clear the streets until those pieces of equipment can make a first pass. We were also experiencing significant winds blowing snow back onto roads that had already been cleaned, necessitating multiple passes on many roads.

I am very appreciative of your patience and understanding during our response. We received such significant snowfall that our plow trucks have spent most of Friday night, Saturday, and last night clearing main roads and critical public safety infrastructure. We are working to get residential streets cleared as quickly as possible.

We have also diverted plow trucks off of cleaning routes to escort police, fire trucks, and ambulances to 911 calls and clear the way for electric crews torestore power. Some other cities have even called in the National Guard to assist with medical calls for this very reason.

During the height of the storm we had fire trucks and ambulances getting stuck in the snowdrifts, which required plow trucks and pay loaders to dig out.

Many people ignored the City’s parking ban and the state’s travel ban and were stuck, which forced them to abandon their cars. Those cars are now blocking roads, which require public works crews to shovel out by hand so they can be towed. We have towed more than 80 vehicles since Friday morning.

Please also remember that, although the state has lifted its travel ban, we are encouraging you to stay at home until further notice as road conditions are still not good and drivers on the road significantly slow clearing operations.

I very much appreciate your understanding as we work to dig out from this historic storm. I know it is frustrating to have such limited mobility but we are working around the clock to ensure that Middletown gets back to normal as quickly as possible.

Please stay safe. Thank you.

Original story

The mayor is asking for residents’ patience in the long and arduous process of clearing city streets of record snowfall after Friday’s blizzard dumped up to 36 inches in Middletown.

Drew says folks who are snowed in and are becoming increasingly impatient not having seen a plow throughout the storm’s duration should know the city is working at full-tilt to dig residents out.

“It’s not hyperbolic to say this is an unprecedented storm,” Drew says.

The confluence of several events have significantly delayed cleanup. “Middletown is the fourth largest town in square miles in the state, with more than 200 miles of roads. That means out of 169 municipalities, there are 165 towns smaller than us,” Drew says.

And that’s a lot of plowing. Add to that one-half of 1 percent of CL&P customers who are or were without power. The mayor says police and public works were diverted from clearing streets in order to clear the way for utility trucks to get power restored.

“We had to make sure all our critical infrastructure was open,” including Middlesex Hospital, three fire stations, police, Hunter’s Ambulance and other essential places.

Add to that public works crews who may have worked 29 of the last 35 hours.

Plow crews, Drew says, who have been out since 7 or 8 a.m. Friday morning, by law can work up to 17 hours then must sleep for three hours, followed by a 12-hour shift and three hours’ sleep. “These people are working away from their families in the worst blizzard we’ve seen in a generation,” Drew explains.

People didn’t heed the governor’s travel ban or the mayor’s parking ban, he said, which resulted in a total of 80 tows, again, diverting city services that should have been clearing streets.

Cars who get trapped, especially in the main thoroughfares, require police, fire and public works crews to assist. “They have to physically dig them out with shovels,” he says.

The entire center lane of Main Street, for example, is where public works piles snow 10 or more feet high, and 5 feet wide. Friday night into Saturday morning, Drew says, trucks trying to plow had to make their way around vehicles stuck on the roadway that hadn't heeded either the state or municipal road ban.

Adding to the delays, there have been two public works truck breakdowns and parts aren’t available, he says.

“We’ve had roofs cave in. We’ve had trucks going the wrong way down the highway. We’ve had traffic shut down one side of the Arrigoni bridge. In the midst of all that, we’re getting regular calls, everything that might happen on a 75-degree day,” Drew explains.

“We’re asking for people’s patience. We have everything firmly under control,” Drew said. “It just takes time.”

Related stories

  • Historic Blizzard Buries Middletown
  • Traffic Over Arrigoni Bridge Limited
  • How To Shovel All That Snow ... Safely
  • Malloy Says Snow Cleanup Will Take a 'Number of Days'
Anonymous February 10, 2013 at 04:36 PM
jane February 10, 2013 at 04:53 PM
I hope the people who ignored the street ban- if they were not essential workers- get slammed with HUGE fines to pay for the hand shoveling by city workers to tow their cars!
jane February 10, 2013 at 04:54 PM
No robo call here- I'm grateful we have power!
April Islam February 10, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Great job City of Middletown!! You're doing a great job. Hopefully residents will be patient with all your efforts to make the roads safe for driving!! Thanks again
Anna S. February 10, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Got the robo call from City Hall. This is what we've been waiting for -- some communication. I'm thankful to Mayor Drew and all the hard workers out there. It really makes a psychological difference just to be kept in the loop of information and know that the plows are trying to get to you. Let's just hope it all works as planned! Though not looking forward to digging out of the snow the plow will dump on my driveway:(
deb Kleckowski February 10, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Yes, we received the call I am sure it made a difference. People want to know what is going on. I hope there is another update by days end. Many people still have notseen a plow. I know of a few people who took matters into their own hand and plowed/snowblowd their street!
William Wilson February 10, 2013 at 05:54 PM
A number of streets have not yet been touched by a plow truck. If there was an emergency there is no way that emergency personal personal could reach them. I guess making sure Main Street is completely clear is more important than streets being open.
William Wilson February 10, 2013 at 06:02 PM
I meant cleaning the stalls on Main street is more important then cleaning roadways
Jason February 10, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Personally I would be impressed if the governor (if possible) shut down the state tomorrow for non-essential personnel simply to get the roads to a point where they are safe. What we all need is time to catch our breaths and really dig out before we get hit again tomorrow night or Wednesday and create a very dangerous situation. What happens if we go back tomorrow and the plows fill our driveways with snow? We will have people out in a storm in the dark digging out their driveways again. Putting people back to work tomorrow with bad weather is going to make it more difficult to clean, and more difficult for us to get relief to people who have been constantly working (hospital staff, plow trucks etc.) since Friday night. We can go one more day without banks, restaurants, and retail shops. Let the people who have to go to work do their jobs and the rest stay out of the way.
middletown expensively taxed taxpayer February 10, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Middletown expensively taxed taxpayer Haven't seen a snow plow in days. Dont forget Maple Shade, Cranberry, and Pheasant drives.
PKOOL February 10, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Still not impressed, according to the last statement I must be in the 15% that has not been plowed. Malarkey, you have NO idea what needs to be done. Extremely, disappointed perhaps you should be the one to call my boss and tell him that Ican't get to work because YOU didn't authorize the road in front of my house to be plowed!!
Ajay February 10, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Still not plowed shady hill lane in riverbend community, not sure when we will see plows, patiently waiting so far. Any help would be appreciated.
Leo February 10, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Its 6:08 on sunday evening. Still no sign of a plow on Warner Avenue.
Pam Magnoli February 11, 2013 at 01:10 AM
well now, guess you're impressed! ;)
Pam Magnoli February 11, 2013 at 01:12 AM
well then um anonymous...I guess you don't know me as well as you think, because if you did, you would know that if I didn't want to support him, I wouldn't. I do support him, but not because I have to. I choose to. and YOU anonymous, have a sparkling day! ;)
Keepitreal February 11, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Dear Pam - Check your facts. Governor Malloy did not SHUT down roadways. He only ordered non essential worker's not to report. Therefore, businesses will still be operating. Continue to drink the Kool Aid my friend. The fact is that private contractors and large equipment were rejected by this administration. With only our existing crews and equipment there is no WAY Middletown could have been prepared for a storm of this magnitude
Lisa S. February 11, 2013 at 02:09 AM
YOU PEOPLE VOTED FOR THIS DUDE YOU GOT WHAT YOU PAID FOR! Dan Drew can text pictures of he and the wifey from the inaguration, go to freakin China and DC a bunch of times yet CANT UPDATE CITIZENS ON WHAT HE REAL ISSUE IS with the lack of plan here- and he wants to blame freakin people walking around? He is high? City website has him MAKING EXCUSES, Danny boy you dropped the ball.
Lisa S. February 11, 2013 at 02:18 AM
Dear Jason in la la land, Tell my boss I need to stay home HAHA. Because Mayor Drew spent all the money and couldn't plan and threw a hissy fit when others suggested plowing all night instead of at the end and my street still isn't "passable." Either you are Drew himself or have drank alot of kool aid.
Lisa S. February 11, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Pam Magnoli- your a state worker and on the Democratic Town Committee that put this liar in office- explains your delusional attitude towards the lack of planning for this storm.
Pam Magnoli February 11, 2013 at 02:39 AM
'scuse me! And when he did, nobody drove on them right? I think not.....so you check your facts. And what business owner who already lost at least a days worth of business due to this storm do YOU think would want that? Then it would be all over the news how Governor Malloy is anti-business, mom and pop businesses were already suffering enough and now he shut them down for a day, etc., etc., etc. Which all would not be true, but I'm sure that bandwagon would fill up faster than you can imagine. As for private contractors being rejected, maybe some were but I believe I read that they were used also. I don't pretend to know the process for hiring private sector workers for emergencies, but that's what our city directors should know. If there were some they wanted or some they didn't, that's their call. I would just imagine there is some sort of liability concerns for something like that though if they were to get hurt while supplying a service to the city. If there isn't, there should be. In any case, even with just drinking simple filtered water, I stand by my opinion that the city did a superb job under extremely stressful conditions at best. Here's to ya Keepitreal ;)
Dan Tax February 11, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Recall Dan Drew and Recall Dan Malloy!
Unreal February 11, 2013 at 04:25 AM
Barbara B. February 11, 2013 at 04:26 AM
Windy Hill not touched at all- its 11:30 Sunday!!
Dan Tax February 11, 2013 at 07:30 AM
Where is the industrial snow blower? 2:30 am still nothing. Drew said by Sunday...he lied. 10k in taxes and we get nothing from this town in return not even garbage pick up
Dan Tax February 11, 2013 at 07:39 AM
PS look for a huge increase in your mill rate and your tax bill soon from a Mayor who ran on the platform of lowering your taxes.Call the mayor and tell him you will vote him out if he does.
Concerned February 11, 2013 at 11:40 AM
My house has city workers who are dying to get out there and help...but they can't because the city has not seen fit to make a pass on our street. Very bad planning. I know everyone is working hard but it is not effective.
Jeremy Belcher February 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM
6:41 AM is 6 hours and 41 minutes later than promissed and still not the slightest peep from a plow.
Arthur Fonzarelli February 11, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Pam is on the Democrat town committee. Then it makes sense. She is looking for something.. Trust me, the DEMS are in it for themselves.. Prove me wrong Pammy! What did Lisa promise you? SHe has no power now that the "S" Family can't stand her.. Good Luck . Your comments are so over the top!
Pam Magnoli February 11, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I've been on that town committee much longer than Lisa, over 20 years as a matter of fact. Not for nothing but if I was on it because I was 'looking for something' don't you think it would have been before now? One of my biggest peeves is people joining because they 'want something' on either Dem or Rep town committee. So Fonz! Yes you are wrong! I do it because I was raised to volunteer for various community organizations you believe in...no more, no less. I have a long list of volunteer organizations I've been involved in.....YOU? Your jumping to conclusions are, in your words, so over the top! Good day ;)
Michele Sarracco February 11, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Mayor Drew this is directed to you...you knew this storm was coming why wheren't you more prepaired?? Why have you made no announcements since yesterday?? I would hand in your resignation!! Are you paying my next tax bill??


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