The temperature on Jan. 6 was -20 degrees below zero Farenheit with a -40-degree wind chill. The blizzard of 2014 is here and gone, and the snowdrifts are now small piles.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the many Town of Munster employees who worked tirelessly from 4 p.m. Jan. 4 through Jan. 7.
In addition to personnel in the Public Works and Parks departments, we had several employees from the Police and Fire departments plowing snow. Several residents who are experienced plow drivers that work as needed.
Members of the fire department were stationed around the clock to insure quick response times. Several call-outs were made to assist motorists and ambulance crews.
Many of our responders live in other communities. They made it in, but some did not make it home every night, instead staying with friends or relatives.
One piece of good luck was being spared from any water main breaks during the extreme cold. We were not so lucky on the New Year’s holiday, having two breaks.
The fast-changing temperatures often cause shifts in the ground that may lead to main breaks. The lack of snow cover before the blizzard aggravated the problem.
Salt and de-icing is another issue during extreme cold. The town has a pre-wetting method that we use in anticipation of snow. This helps with the initial snow, making driving and plowing easier.
We treat all of our salt with liquid calcium chloride for better performance. However, when it gets in the single digits, these methods lose their effectiveness.
If you live on a cul-de-sac or have an alley, these areas are cleared after other streets. Single-lane passes are made on streets and cul-de-sac to make them passable. We do this to help accommodate emergency vehicles.
During the storm the first priority is main and arterial streets, then residential areas. Cleaning cul-de-sacs takes smaller equipment and more time.
Our goal is to have everything cleared back to curbs and all intersections plowed back within 8–10 hours after the snow ends.
What can you do to help?
Get cars off the street during snowstorms. When we have to plow around a car, the vehicle is stuck and it is dangerous for our drivers and it leaves the street in an unsatisfactory condition.
In heavy snows take a few minutes to clear all around the fire hydrant near your house, saving time in an emergency. Also, make sure storm water inlets are clear. Melting snow or rain needs some place to drain. Clear your walks and those of your elderly neighbors.
We get requests to stop plowing into driveways. We don’t do it deliberately - there is not a place to put the snow.
Many thanks to those who have called or sent a note about Munster’s response to the blizzard.
Overall, I think we all did a good job; schools were closed due to the cold, not impassable roads. Residents stayed home, for the most part, which helped crews focus on the task at hand.
Let's hope it is years before we see the likes of this storm again.