New England Growing Weary Of Winter After Another Snow Day
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Boston is slowly recovering from a series of storms that have left much of the Northeast under six or more feet of snow. Public schools in the city will reopen tomorrow after being closed today and yesterday. And public transportation, which was shut down today, will resume limited service. NPR's Tovia Smith reports that even the most hardy New Englanders are pretty much hitting their breaking point.
TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Talk about Groundhog Day - today is the seventh in the last 15 days that Boston kids couldn't go to school, many grownups couldn't get to work. Stores couldn't open for business, cars couldn't make it down streets, and anyone operating a snow plow couldn't sleep.
DAVE MASTRIANI: I have a splitting headache. Yeah, and my butt's sore, too, just from sitting here and bouncing up and down.
SMITH: That's 61-year-old plow operator Dave Mastriani.
MASTRIANI: What day is today now? Are we Monday?
SMITH: I caught up with him 25 hours into a 50-hour shift.
MASTRIANI: After a while you start seeing things, like mailboxes or trash cans, they start looking like people. You know, and it's just - you start seeing spots and it's crazy.
SMITH: Relief is coming from 500 National Guard troops called up to help. Massachusetts is also getting four more snow melters - massive metal boxes that can turn 25 truckloads of snow into water every hour. That's critical, Mastriani says, since snow banks are already too high to take any more snow.
MASTRIANI: It's just like I said, I can't push it back anymore. And the road gets thinner and thinner and thinner.
CHRIS KIRBY: Now almost all the streets seem to be one-way streets where you get stuck and then you have to try to back up and then people get stuck on the side of the street.
SMITH: Chris Kirby commutes from Newton into a Boston hospital.
(SOUNDBITE OF SNOW BLOWER)
SMITH: He was having trouble even in his driveway.
KIRBY: It's getting to the point where I can't actually throw it over the snow bank anymore, so there's nowhere to put it.
SMITH: Residents are not the only ones at the breaking point. Several buildings have collapsed from the weight of the snow.
DEREK LEMAY: It's too heavy up there. The snow's too heavy for the roof, so we got to get it all off.
SMITH: Derek LeMay was on the ground clearing what another plow three stories up was pushing off a roof.
LEMAY: We're piling it up over here.
SMITH: On top of that snow bank.
SMITH: That's already - what - 10-feet high.
LEMAY: At least, yeah, all around.
SMITH: The massive snowfall means an extra fat paycheck for plowers, but it's been devastating to countless other businesses.
LANA BARAKAT: It has been really abysmal.
SMITH: Lana Barakat was counting on a busy run up to Valentine's Day at her jewelry store in Boston. She just opened a couple months ago, paying big rent to be on Charles Street that's usually mobbed with pedestrians.
BARAKAT: I mean, the street is empty. We've had very, very little foot traffic, and, you know, we're all kind of commiserating about it.
SMITH: Even staff has been unable to get in with the trolleys and subways delayed and today totally shut down. Governor Charlie Baker has called the service interruption unacceptable, which led the T's general manager Beverly Scott to shoot back, showing the strain she and all her crews are under.
BEVERLY SCOTT: Those folks that are out there and are continuing to be out there and will stay out there - they are tired. They are giving it all they have, and, quite candidly, it is - I've been around 40 years. I have been through hurricanes. I've been through World Trade Center bombings, tornadoes coming, 30 inches, 36 inches, and all that, so this ain't this woman's first rodeo.
SMITH: Nerves are also frayed among parents shut in yet another day with stir-crazy kids. One mom posted online then when she heard school was canceled again, she literally cried. And as hard as it is to imagine, another storm is expected Thursday. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.
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