Snowstorm poses challenge for Rehoboth crews

High winds, drifts blamed for slower removal
January 12, 2018

A week after a snowstorm dumped 10 to 12 inches of powder on Rehoboth Beach, city crews are still digging out.

Crews are opening handicapped access and fire hydrants, said Mike Peterman, head of the city’s Streets Department.

A few days of warm weather has now melted snow, but nearly a week after the snowfall, some residential streets offered only narrow access. At the intersection of Wilmington Avenue and First Street, a large snowball greeted traffic. City spokeswoman Krys Johnson said the Boardwalk would not be cleared because snow-removal equipment can destroy the boards. Johnson said a night crew will come in Jan. 11 to clear out more snow while fewer cars are on the roadway.

Mayor Paul Kuhns said the snow was difficult to remove. “With the substantial amount of snow combined with the cold weather, it’s a slow process,” he said.

Scott Lawson, who owns homes on Stockley Street and in Newbold Square, said Stockley Street had been plowed by Jan. 9, but he and other residents of Newbold Square had to carve out their own path until city crews plowed it Jan. 10. Newbold Square is a private community off Silver Lake within the city limits.

Lawson said he did not see any crews out in the neighborhoods off Silver Lake until the weekend following the storm, and it appeared most of the removal effort was focused on the central business areas.

“I can’t point fingers, but they could have done a better job,” he said.

Peterman said the Streets Department got to Newbold Square late, but it did get plowed.

Former Mayor Sam Cooper said while the removal could have been better, cold weather following the storm added to the problem. Typically, he said, the city’s procedure is to plow the road and keep pushing the snow back until it is out of the way, but avoid piling it up too high so it does not melt as fast.

Peterman said high winds and extremely cold weather in the days following the snowfall hampered snow removal. He said when the snow first fell Jan. 4, his crew of 20 workers had the whole city dug out by early morning. But then the wind kicked up, and snowdrifts covered the work they had done. On the ocean blocks and on the Boardwalk, snowdrifts were 6 feet high, Peterman said.

“The drifting was really a challenge,” he said. “We had to keep going over roads.”

Peterman said the department had to bring in front-end loaders and other equipment to break through the snow.

The high winds and cold follow-up weather made this a much more challenging blizzard than the last major snowstorm in Rehoboth in 2010, Peterman said.