A Challenging Winter, a Strong City

March 25, 2015
By

With the cycle of what seemed like never-ending snowstorms, this winter has tested me as a Mayor, and Boston as a community. I’ve been struck by how Bostonians have pulled together throughout this record-breaking season of storms, which surpassed the 1995-1996 figure with a current total of 108.6 inches this winter. Tackling these storms required a collaborative response, and I’m incredibly proud of everyone who has driven a plow, picked up a shovel, cleared a hydrant, or helped out in some small way. Maybe your story isn’t known, and you grabbed your shovel and walked against the wind during a snowstorm to help a senior, or maybe you helped someone get their car out when it was stuck in snow. Thank you to the everyday heroes who extended a hand to their neighbor when Boston needed them most.

During one of the storms, I passed a man in South Boston on L Street whose car was stalled off to the side of the road. My colleagues and I were able to give him a jumpstart, to help him on his way. The Office of Neighborhood Services was able to help Sharon from Mattapan, who has MS and needed access to medication, as well as Ginny in South Boston, a senior citizen who needed help shoveling. There are many more stories of Bostonians coming together to support each other this winter.

Together, the Boston Police and Inspectional Services departments gave over 1,100 rides to nurses and emergency workers. We closed the Boston Public Schools for 8 days, while keeping 14 community centers open for free childcare. Our homeless shelters have been open around-the-clock, offering daytime services and sheltering more than 600 guests each night.

The Boston Transportation Department joined Public Works, Boston Police, and Pine Street in alerting the owners of snowed-in vehicles, and clearing a path for a Pine Street Inn food delivery truck that was blocked. The truck would not have been able to deliver meals to the shelters if we hadn’t all worked together during the storm.

Given the unprecedented snowfall, I’m proud of our performance.

Our Public Works team and their contractor partners—every snowplow, dump truck, and snow melter on the streets and snow farms of Boston—worked day in and day out to make all roads passable. One billion cubic feet of snow fell on Boston’s streets last month. That’s more than twice the amount of dirt moved during all 15 years of the Big Dig. Public Works plowed 295,000 miles of roadway—roughly 12 trips around the earth. We removed over 30,000 truckloads of snow from city streets. We melted 50,000 tons at our snow farms. We took over 110,000 calls to the Mayor’s Hotline.

We are continuing our snow recovery efforts to clean up the trash left behind from the unprecedented amount of snow Boston received over a 30-day period. On February 11, Public Works began proactively surveying roads to fill potholes following the heavy use of salt and snow removal equipment used on roads as a result of the snowstorms. Since then, 500 tons of hot top has been used to fill over 3,000 potholes. This week alone, Boston’s Public Works Department’s overnight street sweeping crews have removed over 200 tons of trash from the streets of Boston, and 20 hokeys will begin to assist in trash removal efforts.

Spring arrived on March 20. Beginning on April 24, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services will lead the annual “Boston Shines,” recruiting volunteers to tackle cleaning the streets of Boston one neighborhood at a time for three consecutive weekends. This year, as the snow melts, it’s more important than ever for us to come together as one community to help clean up our neighborhoods. I encourage everyone to get involved in Boston Shines as Boston continues to recover from the historic amount of snow we received.

This experience shows that we are a resilient city, capable of great things. We have the strength of our people, and the strength of our history, to draw from. I’m grateful to every single city worker and resident of Boston who did something positive to help lift someone up during a challenging time.  It’s hard to think of warmer days ahead, but they’re almost here.

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