Weathering the snow, wind chill

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A Westfield plow clears a residential street. Plows went through neighborhoods three times to clear snow, ice and slush from the winter storm on Jan. 6 through 8. (Submitted photo)

A Westfield plow clears a residential street. Plows went through neighborhoods three times to clear snow, ice and slush from the winter storm on Jan. 6 through 8. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Ken Alexander

Because I’m the public works director for the City of Westfield, weather is my best friend and my worst enemy, depending on the forecast. This particular winter storm challenged my team and me in more ways than I thought possible. The public works crew dealt with more than 12 inches of snow, -40 degree wind chill and then a warm-up that turned all the snow into flooding concerns in just a few days. It gives me heartburn just thinking about it.

The city’s crew is small, but mighty, and it proved its abilities time and time again. Starting with the city’s preparation for the incoming storm the Friday before, to a week later doing a final push throughout the entire city to clear the streets, my crew was on top of its game.

The city was prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. As director, I was aware we didn’t have the staff to tackle such a beast, so we decided to get help. The city contracted with Hittle Landscaping to plow during the storm. Once the snow stopped falling, the city continued to push, with day crew members plowing from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and night crews working 7 p.m. until 7 a.m.

My staff members committed themselves 100 percent. Whether it was plowing out driveways of residents who weren’t capable, or pulling vehicles out that were stuck in the snow, their commitment is what makes our city government work efficiently deserving of pride.

By the numbers

It snowed 13 inches in Westfield, but that’s not the only important number from the winter storm.

Salt used: 900 tons

Diesel fuel used in plow trucks: 1,912 gallons

Hours worked Jan. 5 through 11: 1,682

Hours worked by 33 city employees: 1,122

Ken Alexander is director of Westfield’s Public Works Dept. He can be reached at 804-3100 or kalexander@westfield.in.gov.

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