by Laura Snyder
The snowstorm that hit Huntingdon in January was disruptive to both students and residents. Huntingdon Borough has plans in place to efficiently handle snow emergencies. According to Huntingdon’s Mayor, Dee Dee Brown, Winter Storm Jonas was “the worst snow storm we’ve had in four years.”
“Governor Wolf—a day before the snow hit—declared Pennsylvania a state of emergency because we were supposed to get snow everywhere. That helps boroughs such as Huntingdon, which is a small borough and has very little equipment, (and) allows us to have the funding for overtime. We had maintenance crews working around the clock,” said Brown.
“We have an ordinance that people have to abide by,” said Brown. Huntingdon Borough has planned snow emergency routes, which are cleared first, followed by other streets in the Borough. Emergency snow routes are crucial to keep clear for the fire department, police department and others emergency vehicles.
Since Huntingdon is a small town and rarely receives 24 inches of snow, it does not have the necessary plows and dump trucks to handle such weather. “We usually rely on independent contractors. They’re local people, so we don’t mind keeping the money back in the Borough,” said Brown.
Huntingdon’s maintenance crew handles the clean-up after a snowstorm. “You can only do so much so fast, and our guys worked very hard. They’re loyal, dedicated, diligent and they got the job done. Most of the people on our maintenance crew had been here for years, so they know what to do. We’re lucky,” said Brown.
The Huntingdon police department also helps keep the streets clean during snow storms. “Mostly what we dealt with was parking issues. Unfortunately, if you park your car on the street and a snow plow comes, they have no other place to put it but plow it back on the roadways. It’s an inconvenience for the residents, but there’s no other place to put the snow,” said Rufus Brenneman, chief of the Huntingdon police department. The police try to notify vehicle owners as soon as possible to give them a chance to move their vehicle.
“We also had a water main break, too, that we had to stop between cleaning up after the snow,” said Brenneman. In spite of the water main break occurring during the snowstorm, Huntingdon Borough was able to handle both issues efficiently.
“Another issue is running out of places to dump the snow. We’re not going to dump it in the river because that’s a violation of the Department of Environmental Protection, and they would fine the borough. There’s potential that there’s gas, oil, and other petroleum products on the roads,” said Brenneman.
Despite all the extra considerations and regulations concerning snow removal, Huntingdon Borough managed to stick to a schedule and get the streets cleared in just a few days. “We do an excellent job,” said Brown.
“I am from Los Angeles, California,” said sophomore Angie Etienne. “We don’t have what I like to call ‘real winter.’ It barely gets in the 40’s before people complain that it’s cold. My first year here was my first real winter. I had never seen snow.”
Adjusting to a new climate can be a challenge. “Learn how to adjust by putting on more layers. We’re not used to so many layers so that’s always my first advice,” said Etienne.
Bridget Kiely, a sophomore from Vermont, had an easier time adjusting to Huntingdon weather. “Driving down (to Juniata, the weather) got milder and milder,” said Kiely.
“It’s much warmer, and maybe a little bit more extreme. Vermont has a very ‘middle-ground’ temperature I think, especially in the summer. Down here it’s wicked hot, especially in August,” said Kiely.
Kiely offered advice to students who need help adjusting. “It might be annoying but always have gloves, especially if you have to clean up your car, because you don’t want to get frostbite. Always have sunglasses when you’re driving because the sun glare is much worse on the snow,” said Kiely.
The snowstorm at the start of the semester gave students trouble with getting around campus. Ice is a concern for students who walk long distances across campus. “Here you have to be careful because snow is in your way and ice can make you fall, so there’s a lot of learning to be aware of your surroundings,” said Etienne.
According to Brown, patience is key for residents who are dealing with snow. “24 inches of snow does not just go away. You can’t just remove it in 24 hours,” said Brown.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 6 News