Ready to Roll: Belmont's Departments Prepare for Historic Blizzard
Public Works, Police and Fire and Municipal Light crews are ready for the next 72 hours.
Inside the Belmont Highway Department, all the televisions are on weather channels as meteorologists begin to up the amount of snow and duration of the blizzard that began early Friday, Feb. 8.
Upstairs in the main office, Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro is answering one cell phone call after another, marshaling a growing army in an attempt to stay ahead of the snow as much as he can.
"We'll have well over 60 pieces of equipment on the roads once we get going,' said Santoro of the town's front line force to meet what many believe will be one of the largest northeasters to have crossed New England.
As of 11 a.m., Friday, every town vehicle has been staffed while hire contractors will be coming on by 3 p.m.
"We will address the storm as it comes," he said, noting that weather forecasts Friday at mid-morning are predicting heavier snow Saturday only tapering off at night.
The Highway Department's blueprint is to plow every road in town with a goal of keeping one lane open so emergency vehicles can pass by. When the snow subsides, the mission will be "push (the snow) back and widen the roadway," said Santoro.
Santoro said the need to clear school parking lots, sidewalks and other "odds and ends" will require the crews to be working well into Monday morning.
"We're gonna be busy," he said.
If there was one message Santoro and the entire Highway Department want to convey to residents is not to throw snow back into the roadway when they are clearing their driveways and sidewalks.
"They need to also advise their private contractors not to put the snow back into the town streets. That is a big thing," said Santoro.
With wind gusts reaching hurricane intensity – gusts up to 70 mph overnight – there is a growing possibility of power outages as trees and branches fall onto lines and poles.
Over at the Belmont Municipal Light Department, spokesperson Jennifer Santoro said two crews of two linemen will be responding to every outage call it receives. On Saturday morning, a new set of linemen will be on duty.
In addition, the customer service phone line will be staffed to respond to any question or call that power has gone out.
Santoro said customers should report power outages to the Light Department's main phone line at 617-993-2800 and not the emergency 911.
"(Calling 911) will only delay our response," she noted.
Belmont Fire Department is upping its complement with an extra engine and ambulance on call along with increasing to three the number of firefighters on the department's ladder truck, according to Assistant Fire Chief Angus Davison.
Davison advises all home and property owners to take it easy if they are shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks. Rather then tackle it all at once, try a portion of the area and come back later to do the remainder.
"It will still be there so you have time to shovel," he said, also reminding residents not to heat their homes from their oven and to use space heaters properly if the power goes out. And be especially careful with candles, making sure they are on stable surfaces.