The big dig out begins across the midstate

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | Jan 24, 2016 1:35 PM

A man shovels snow during the snowstorm, Saturday Jan. 23, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

(Harrisburg) -- Today marks the start of the big dig out from an historic winter storm that blasted the midstate over the weekend.

But, clean-up efforts could be a long slog.

An estimated 18-24 inches of snow blanketed much of the region, with the highest totals approaching three feet in places like York Springs, Pine Grove Furnace and Mont Alto.

So, it could be a few days before all that snow is cleared out.

But, where it will all go?

If you're shoveling your driveway or sidewalk, you just can't throw it in the street and crews plowing can't pile it on sidewalks.

Governor Tom Wolf says where it all will go -- outside of melting, of course -- varies from community to community.

"Obviously, it becomes a real challenge in a city street or borough street. They have to sometimes use front-loaders to get the snow onto a dump truck to get it out, because you can't just push it out onto a sidewalk then people can't walk," he says. "Each municipality has their own plan. Some of them will take longer than others."

Wolf credits people staying inside during the storm for the round-the-clock progress crews made to ensure roadways were clear of snow and ice.

"One of the reasons we were able to make it through and recover so quickly is because the people of Pennsylvania exercised real restraint and stayed off the roads when they could," he says. It made all the difference in the world. It allowed the emergency crews, at the local levels, the state levels, throughout Pennsylvania and all the affected areas. It allowed them to do their job in getting the roads open as quickly as they could."


Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Rick Flinn provides a winter storm update. (Courtesy PA Internet News Service)

Rick Flinn, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, says PEMA will work on a county-by-county assesment to determine what kind of assistance is needed.

"We're going to work with the counties, do an assesment, county-by-county, to determine what their potential needs are and anticipated Guard resources or any other resources to what they have,": he says. "The primary emphasis that they have right now is getting plowed out in their streets and getting ready for schools. We can make an assumption some schools will be closed. A lot of schools will be on delay. We're coordinating and working to provide any kind of support to the counties."

PennDOT crews have been working around the clock to clear roads of snow and ice.

During the height of the storm, 18 county emergency operations centers were activated, 20 counties enacted emergency declarations and more than 211 municipal declarations of disaster emergency were issued.

Some 326 Pennsylvania National Guard troops are on active duty to assist clean-up efforts. 

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