Snow removal often a thankless task

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018

We’ve had enough snow for a while, thank you. Of course, it doesn’t matter what we think, because Mother Nature does what she does, when she wants to do it.
While Sunday’s snowfall is heading for the record books, the truth is, there’s not much we can do about it except complain — and shovel.
In Elizabethton, the amount of snow varied, but on average, six inches of snow fell in most locations, covering streets and main thoroughfares and making them difficult to drive on.
Despite the never-ending snow, we manage to get around — albeit slowly — thanks to the people who plow our roadways and highways.
It’s easy to take snowplowing for granted because when it needs to be done, it’s done in a timely manner by city, county and state workers. While snowplow drivers get extra pay for the extra hours they spend clearing the white stuff, the job is difficult and dangerous and takes the workers away from their homes and families, often during the night while the rest of us are asleep, so we can make it to school and work.
Many workers put in double and triple shifts through the heart of the storm and still needed to return to duty soon thereafter. The snow was coming down Sunday so hard and fast that roads were often covered a half hour after being plowed.
Sure, sometimes we want to wave an angry fist when a snowplow pushes banks of snow in front of our driveway as it clears the road. But we know the drivers are just doing their jobs, and doing them very well.
We remind motorists that when you see a snowplow headed your way or pushing in front of you, please be patient as the driver performs this valuable service for our community.
We also remind business owners to make sure sidewalks in front of your establishments are free of snow and ice. Foot traffic downtown is vital to business.
To homeowners, we remind you of the importance of clearing your sidewalks as quickly as possible. It’s the neighborly thing to do! People on foot or in wheelchairs rely on having clear paths. When we don’t clean up after storms, we force people to travel in the streets, where they run the risk of being injured.
For those living in rural areas, we encourage you to clear snow from around your mailboxes, so you can continue to receive your mail uninterrupted. Your mailbox area needs to be regularly inspected as passing plows will sometimes hem them in again.
We also encourage residents who are in close proximity to fire hydrants to keep them clear of snow, so emergency personnel will be able to find them easily.
Dealing with snow requires common sense, patience and understanding. The more snow there is, the more those three qualities are needed.
Common sense includes allowing extra time to get to your destination and it also requires patience if your four-wheel-drive behemoth is traveling behind a compact car spinning its wheels.
It also can mean leaving that compact car — or other vehicle — home until road conditions assure safe travel.
Patience includes waiting for snowplows to get to your street, even if it seems your street is always last. It also means understanding that snowplow drivers are not miracle workers and are doing the best they can.
Patience and common sense also means recognizing that, if you are having trouble getting around town, so will postal workers and pizza delivery guys.
Tempers are likely to be short, whether it’s on the road, in the supermarket line or at home with family members suffering from too much togetherness.
But, take heart, the sun came out Tuesday, and warmer temperatures are in the forecast. In the meantime, if you see a snowplow driver, give him a pat on the back.

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