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February 12, 2013

Cleanup seen taking days

Schools set to reopen as cleanup goes on

GLOUCESTER — Two dump trucks and a wheel loader rumbled and purred in the center of Prospect Street, between Maplewood Avenue and Pleasant Street, the loader driver scraping mounds of snow banks into the middle of the road then scooping and dropping them into the dump truck to be hauled off to Stage Fort Park in the afternoon Monday.

Gloucester residents can expect to see more of the heavy equipment, paired with snow plows and snow blowers in the coming days and weeks, according to Department of Public Works Director Mike Hale. Hale and his crews have been working nearly non-stop since the blizzard, named Nemo began dropping between 20 and 24 inches of snow on Cape Ann Friday.

”This is taxing on these guys,” Hale said. “I can’t make people appreciate anything, but if they understand what we’re doing, hopefully that will have some effect ... Most residents recognize that there’s two feet of snow and everybody’s doing the best they can.”

Hale said most of the crews worked in plowing and clearing roadways from clocking in at 7 a.m. Friday morning to midnight Sunday, taking only cat naps in chairs during quick breaks. Many shuffled home for a night’s sleep Sunday at midnight only to be back at it 7 a.m. Monday. And the pattern will continue for at least a few days, with crews working through the day then returning for a night shift of snow removal.

Hale asks that residents be patient as public works tackles the damage and snowy remains issue by issue, prioritizing the snow removal and damage repair projects. While every public road in the city should be clear enough for careful travel — and schools in the city were expected to reopen today — many of the smaller, lesser used roadways are narrowed by snow banks on either side and may be more slippery than main roads.

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