Monday, March 10, 2014
PORTLAND - The Blizzard of 2013 transformed Portland overnight, from bustling streets Friday into a largely deserted cityscape by Saturday morning.
An unidentified person skis down the deserted streets of Portland between Planet Fitness and Walgreens on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
Photo by Kaylene Samuels
A man battles fierce winds as he climbs a hill after leaving his car in a parking lot to avoid being towed during a parking ban, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
The city was blanketed with snowdrifts sculpted by the high winds into cresting white waves that climbed walls and blocked doorways.
Freshly plowed streets throughout the peninsula, from the West End to the Old Port to Munjoy Hill, were unusually quiet.
Few drivers and curious pedestrians ventured out. Some people were starting to shovel sidewalks, and a few stranded tourists tried to find something to do.
Ryan Wilson, owner of 'Til Death tattoo shop on Fore Street, described a different scene Friday night when revelers, excited by the record-breaking snowstorm, were sledding down Exchange Street, yelling "game on" when the route was safe, and "game off" when a plow truck came through.
Wilson walked down Exchange Street shortly before noon Saturday, looking at the plowed but empty street as he prepared to shovel out his shop in preparation for a customer at 1 p.m.
"Nothing's open. No one's around, except a select couple people who are crazy to be out," he said.
Wilson was unprepared for the snow -- he had no gloves and wore shoes wrapped in plastic bags instead of proper boots. Though he still owns the shop, he moved last month to California and only came back Tuesday for a visit.
"We had heard that there was a storm coming, but we didn't realize it was going to be this bad," said Wilson, a Belfast native. "I don't think I remember seeing anything this big -- maybe when I was a little kid, but everything seems deeper when you're a little kid."
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan, speaking at a news conference at the city's Public Services Offices on Portland Street on Saturday morning, asked motorists and pedestrians to stay off city streets.
"We've broken records. We've set history. But we need help from the people of Portland," Brennan said. "It's still unsafe to be out there. We're asking the people in the city to work with us to give us time to clean up the storm."
But Brennan also asked those who were out to call the police or fire departments if they saw someone in trouble.
"We are Mainers, and we're used to this, but the thing Mainers do and the people of Portland do is we look out for each other," Brennan said.
Snow-clearing crews from the Department of Public Services have been at work since Friday morning, and the city has called in outside contractors to help clear streets, Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky said.
Plow drivers were concentrating on major arteries and connector roads, but had gone over each city street at least twice by late Saturday morning, Bobinsky said.
"Sidewalk work will take a little longer, particularly outside school areas," he said. "That may take four or five days."
Snow was piled 5 feet high and 6 feet wide down the middle of Commercial Street, waiting to be trucked away and dumped.
Bobinsky said trucking the snow out of the city will take time. Crews will move some of it to a location off Somerset Street in Bayside and will haul more snow to an area adjacent to the airport on outer Congress Street, he said.
Dan Lord, the maintenance man at Matthew's on Free Street, began shoveling out the sidewalk in front of the pub before 9 a.m. He said this is the biggest snowstorm he has seen in his life.
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