Area municipalties use Winter Storm Stella as a learning tool

By Melanie Mizenko - | March 20th, 2017 5:27 pm

Winter Storm Stella dumped more than two feet of snow on the region and reinforced some valuable lessons to local municipal officials last week.

“Preparation is really crucial in dealing with a storm of this magnitude,” Hanover Township Manager Sam Guesto said.

Township officials had a preparation meeting the day before the record-breaking snowfall to go over plowing and priority lists, Guesto said.

The township, which has 43 miles of road excluding alleyways, had area contractors on stand-by. Guesto said the crews were “determined” to keep the township running “and it showed with passable main roads.”

“Believe me, we had a time when it felt like Stella got the best of us and needed a break,” Guesto said.

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George and other city officials, including city Administrator Ted Wampole and the police and fire chiefs were “on constant vigil” from the on-set of Stella this past Tuesday through Sunday when the road conditions were back to “close to normal.”

“All were in constant communications with each other … to inform … the public on status,” said Tyler Ryan, the mayor’s administrative assistant.

Forty Fort Mayor Andy Tuzinski said the road crews were “good” during the storm and the borough was prepared “before the first snowflake hit.” The 15 miles of roads the borough has were clear by Wednesday evening, Tuzinski boasted.

“By Thursday and Friday, they were concentrating on hauling snow out of the borough,” Tuzinski said.

The only difference from other major snowstorms, Tuzinski noted, was the use of social media. He said he used the borough’s Facebook pages “extensively” during the storm to keep residents informed.

Pittston Mayor Jason Klush was a high school student when the Blizzard of 1993 hit.

“We did better than that,” he said recalling that he had more than four days off of school in 1993. Klush, who has a background in construction, was out plowing roads when he was not at work.

The Pittston mayor said it’s “impossible” to prepare for a storm of the magnitude of Stella. But he was happy with how everything turned out, even it it took longer because the city has narrow roads.

In case it happens again, Klush said the city would “do what we did this time.”

His biggest challenge he said is balancing the funds with contractors and overtime.


By Melanie Mizenko

Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko