Town Manager Kevin Smith got a first-hand look at Londonderry plowing operations from the shotgun seat in a town plow during yesterday’s snowstorm.
“Out with our plow guys,” Smith posted via his Twitter account. “Good to see more plows than cars on the road right now. Brian the plow guy is being extra careful. We’ve only had to ‘move’ one trash bin.”
Brian is Brian Bubelnyk, a veteran plow operator for the town, who consented to having the boss accompany him on rounds.
“I wanted to get a real sense of how these guys do their jobs,” Smith said.
Bubelnyk was giving Smith a lesson or two about challenges that include more than stray trash barrels.
“It’s a lot easier when the road ends in a cul-de-sac than a dead end,” Smith said.
Smith found his few hours on the road yesterday a beneficial learning experience.
“Plowing is a very important service for the town,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re doing a good job and also being respectful and taking care of property.”
Smith’s adventure was one of many as people in New Hampshire coped with the big storm.
Tales were plentiful as snowflakes.
By mid-afternoon in Atkinson, it was quiet throughout town.
“There are barely any cars on the road,” police Chief Al Brackett said. “People smartly decided to stay home.”
He praised the work the highway department.
“They are out there and continuing to make the roads better,” he said.
The town’s animal control officer, Sheila Johannesen, was among those who decided to weather the storm at home.
“I’m staying home and heeding the warnings,” she said. “There is nothing so important that it can’t be done tomorrow.”
But Johannesen, 60, occasionally found herself outside, trying to move any snow she could with her not-so-reliable 30-year-old snowblower.
“As long as my animals are fed and I have ice cream in the freezer, I’m all set,” she said.
The snow didn’t deter some people from venturing downtown.
There were about 5 inches of new snow by 10:30 a.m., but some diehards still hopped in their cars to get a good breakfast.
For Arlen LePage, 57, of West Broadway, it was still a work day. LePage was busy shoveling sidewalks for downtown businesses and apartments.
As soon as he would clear the sidewalk, a plow would pass.
“It just keeps getting pushed back,” he said, shoveling the walk for the third time by 10:45 a.m. “It’s a work in progress.”
Jim Markun, 50, of Derry walked to CVS while taking a break from working at home. He pulled out a camera to photograph a plow pushing snow to prove to his co-workers how much had fallen in such a short time.
“I work in Boston,” he said. “They don’t believe that happens here.”
Business was steady at MaryAnn’s Diner, where many customers braved the snow and slippery roads.
Many residents were singing the road crews’ praises, a big change from earlier storms.
“Very impressed,” Tanya Smith posted on Facebook. “These guys deserve a thank-you.”
Others echoed her.
“They are doing an amazing job,” Rachel Bernaby Couture wrote. “Thank you!”
Despite the storm, businesses in the center of town were open.
Wayne Dumas, owner of Don’s Market, said no storm closes him down.
“Blizzards, hurricanes, you name it.” he said. “We’re always there for people to get what they need.”
Dumas said traffic in the store was light yesterday, with people only stopping in to get the essentials.
“People are getting milk, cigarettes and gasoline for their snowblowers,” he said.
The English Muffin was also open.
“We really only close if there is no power,” owner Diane Partridge said. “We try to stay open just so people can grab a cup of coffee and have a place to go.”
After living in Kingston since 1957, resident Jay Alberts said he doesn’t understand why people get all worked up about the weather.
“It’s New England — get over it,” he said. “It’s just fine to me.”
Any snow removal would have to wait a day, he said.
“The only plan I have is to make sure I have enough wood, make sure the generator is full of gas, and to get a few movies,” he said. “I’m chilling out.”
Luis Moreira of Derry stopped for a coffee break in Londonderry, shovels visible in the back of the truck.
He lives — and works — for days like this.
“It’s a good day,” Moreira said. “Snow is money, white gold.”
This is a good winter for him.
“Pretty steady,” is how he described business removing snow.
Raymond Rentas of Derry, shopping with some of the family at Market Basket, said his son, Ray Jr., was very happy.
That wasn’t just because he had the day off from Pinkerton Academy, but also the opportunity to make some money, his father said.
“He’s working today, plowing,” Rentas said.
Deputy emergency management director and former Selectman Trisha McCarthy was worried about power outages yesterday.
“People losing their power when there is snow has always been an issue,” she said. “Ninety-nine out of 100 times we lose power.”
One concern during any big storm is for the welfare of the town’s elderly, including those who live at Packer Meadows senior housing complex, she said.
McCarthy, 65, a real estate agent who works in Newburyport, was one of many Southern New Hampshire residents who decided to work at home yesterday.
“The roads are definitely sloppy,” she said. “I’m just as happy to work out of my home.”
Shoppers defied the flakes and maneuvered around plows at Pelham Plaza.
Charisse Orr of Pelham came for some last-minute groceries with her mother, Jeannine Godbyr.
“Milk, bread, eggs,” Orr said, reciting her list from memory while loading the car.
Orr paused to assess the storm and the winter.
“It’s brutal,” Orr said.
But, in her opinion, bad as this winter seems, others were worse.
“It hasn’t been as bad as last year,” she said.
Phil Giacoppo climbed down from his tractor trailer, a tanker, with advice for other drivers.
“Go home,” Giacoppo counseled.
He is on the road all the time and didn’t mind the travel yesterday.
“The roads are pretty good,” he said, reviewing the work of the highway and road crews.
Town Hall was closed, but Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald was still a busy man yesterday.
Working remotely from his Massachusetts home, Fitzgerald was in touch with emergency personnel, keeping tabs on the town.
“It’s just a day to be safe and not to travel,” he said. “With how dangerous the roads are, we want to make sure everyone is safe.”
The town announced Tuesday night that Town Hall and the library would be closed yesterday.
“We want to make decisions early enough so that people can avoid unsafe driving conditions and not go to Town Hall,” he said. “We can put off some things until tomorrow.”
Fitzgerald said he tried to get his normal day’s work done at home.
“I’m coordinating the waste pickup, finalizing the town report and putting together the town warrant,” he said, “just doing the things I normally would be doing.”
Everyone in Salem knows Patrick Hargreaves as a selectman and business owner, but many may not realize he plows snow on the side.
Hargreaves was out yesterday,y plowing 15 driveways and two department parking lots, beginning at 5:30 a.m. Visibility was poor, he said.
“You can probably only see a quarter of mile in front of you right now,” he said.
Hargreaves, owner of Pat’s Key “N” Lock on North Broadway, was one of many local business owners who decided to shut down for the day. The roads were just too slippery, he said.
“I’m not going to have my guys out in the van,” he said. “It would be like taking a toboggan out there.”
Many Sandown residents heeded advice and stayed off the roads, police Cpl. John Sable said.
Plow crews were doing their best to keep up with the fast-falling snow, according to Sable and Selectmen’s Chairman Thomas Tombarello.
Only one car had gone off the road as of 4 p.m., Sable said.
Tombarello said he was pleased to see the town’s roads were in good shape.
Jon Normington pushed a snowblower around the parking lot outside his Windham Junction Country Gift Shop and Kitchen, and pondered the impact of a hard winter on his business.
“This is killing another day of business,” Normington said. “People don’t want to be out in it. They are ready for spring.”
Across town at Windham Plaza, Howie Glynn, president of Howie Glynn & Sons, brushed snow from his SUV outside his convenience store.
“Another day in paradise,” he said.
Glynn sizes up this winter for business as about the same as last year, but acknowledged the snow can make a difference.
“They don’t drive as much,” he said of customers.
Glynn has lived in New Hampshire since 1972.
“I’d say this is a more typical winter for the area,” Glynn said.
Staff writers John Toole, Alex Lippa and Doug Ireland contributed to this report.