EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 17, 2013

Storm hit at just the wrong time

Wet snow turned to ice; storm hit as commute started

METHUEN — Public Works Director Ray DiFiore woke up at 4:30 a.m. and sat at his kitchen table staring out the window.

“I sat there for a half-hour and said, ‘OK, where is it? Did I miss it?’” he said yesterday afternoon. He didn’t have to wait long.

At around 5 a.m., the flakes started falling. And they didn’t stop until about midday. While dropping just a few inches, the snowstorm sheeted area roadways with ice, caused scores of accidents and left commuters frustrated and confused about why the roads weren’t salted and plowed.

In North Andover, public works Director Bruce Thibodeau said the storm happened at the worst possible time to wreak the most possible havoc.

“At 5 a.m., there wasn’t any snow,” he said. “At 5:25, we got calls from the police department about slippery spots.”

He sent salt trucks out at around 6 a.m., and started plowing between 7 and 7:30 a.m.

“Our report said it wasn’t going to get bad until after 8 a.m.,” he said. “It came quicker than we thought.”

He added, “It was the worst possible storm that hit at the worst time with more snow than we thought.”

In Haverhill, cars hit utility poles, there was at least one bus accident, and cars were off the road all over the city.

“When I went out and saw them, the roads were fine. That was around 10:30 a.m,” Mayor James Fiorentini said.

He said he did get some complaints and emails, but nobody called him at home.

However, his Facebook page had about 30 comments from Haverhill residents lambasting the decision to have school even though the roads were unsafe.

“That is the superintendent’s decision,” Fiorentini said, referring to school Supt. James Scully. “But I’ve got to defend the superintendent on this.”

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