Watertown plow drivers and residents look to catch their breath during clean up

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 5:24 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Thousands of miles from her family in Jamaica, Watertown resident Simone Clarke went from hearing waves splashing to the scraping of ice.

“I keep checking the weather every minute. It’s like 87 degrees in Kingston right now, and sunny,” said Simone Clarke.

She spent her Christmas hunkered down as she watched the snow begin to surround her car.

“I walk to the gas station if I need something really quick,” said Clarke.

Clarke isn’t the only one digging out.

On Monday, the hum of snow blowers filled the City of Watertown.

Mark Kline from Mannsville spent hours helping Clarke clear her driveway.

“Barely any snow in Mannsville. In Watertown, it’s like a white globe,” said Kline.

Meanwhile, city Department of Public Works crews cleared city streets. We asked Superintendent Pat Keenan how they were holding up.

“Well, we’re trying to catch our breath, actually. But that’s not going to happen,” said Keenan.

Plow drivers are now on day three of clean up. One of them watched his kids open presents over FaceTime.

“There’s a core group that’s been great. Coming in, working 16 hour shifts, go home, and they’re right back at it as soon as 8 hours is up,” said Keenan.

Keenan compared this storm to the Blizzard of ‘77, with a few differences.

“I think the big difference now is the equipment is better. Going back to ‘77, we had over 100 people on staff. We’re down to about 30, 35 people right now that are primarily doing snow removal,” said Keenan.

Keenan is reminding people not to park on city roads and he credits the travel ban the county put into effect at the height of the storm, stating it was much easier to plow streets that were empty instead of busy with drivers.