City officials pleased with snow removal process Monday through Wednesday

Brandon Schatsiek

Considering the circumstances — somewhere between 12 and 18 inches of snow — Washington administrators believe the operation of cleaning up and keeping citizens safe during the snow storm Monday through Wednesday, went pretty well.

"Realistically, it went as well as could have been expected," said Deputy Chief of Police Don Volk.

Volk said the biggest deterrent to getting the streets plowed even quicker was the same thing they spent the better part of Thursday dealing with — abandoned vehicles in and near the roads.

"(Wednesday) morning they had three or four on Cummings Lane they had to tow out of the snow drifts just so they could get the (snow) plows down," Volk said. "There are still only two out of the three lanes that are open (on Cummings Lane)."

City Administrator Bob Morris said Cruger Road may have been the worst road, and probably won't be in tip-top shape until Friday afternoon at the earliest.

"We had some very serious drifting because of the high wind — Cruger Road is still in really bad condition," Morris said. "It's open to traffic, but in some places it's only wide enough for one car."

Volk said one area of concern was that a part of the Rolling Meadows North subdivision lost power from sometime Tuesday evening until Wednesday morning.

"We lined up contingency places for warming centers: the fire department and upstairs (of the police station)," Volk said. "We had the contingency plan set up if we needed to shelter people, but (Ameren Cilco) got on it pretty quick."

Over the next few days, Morris said the city's top priorities are digging out the fire hydrants around town in case the fire department needs them and increasing visibility in certain trouble areas.

"Fire hydrants are key, as well as knocking down some of the very tall piles of snow that are impeding visibility at intersections," Morris said. "We'll be working on that through the end of the week, trying to deal with those issues. I would say other than the downtown square, maybe by the end of Friday we'd have things in reasonably good shape."

Despite there still being work to do — and even more if the Sunday/Monday snow arrives as expected — Morris said while things "never go as you hope," it could have been much worse.

"It was a tough 36 hours," Morris said. "We did get everything plowed and opened I'd say early evening (Wednesday). You can never get there as quickly as you want to be in terms of clearing streets and getting people back to normal daily life."

As pleased as Morris was, he said the situation still left room for improvement. 

"Always — we could always do better," Morris said. "It usually does come back to equipment and how we're going to actually put resources out there to do the job. I have a lot of faith in our public services crew. They have a lot of experience in how to go about it."

Morris said just because this snow storm is over, the planning for future snow storms begins some time next week when he will sit down with Chief of Police Jim Kuchenbecker and other city officials to see what went as planned and what the city can improve.

"Clearly all of us would have liked to clear residential streets much earlier than we got done (Wednesday around 7 p.m.)," Morris said. "Every one of these is a learning experience."

Read the Feb. 9 edition of the Washington Times-Reporter for a more detailed article with how a local business geared up for the storm and how a stranger "saved (a Washington woman's) life."