Some Called it "The Beast"

Covering the entire Midwest and Northeast, the early February storm had the weather channel prophets airing doomsday predictions with headlines like ­“Colossal Winter Storm Takes Aim.”

In fairness, schools in D.C. did shut down for almost a week.

But for Andy Hodgdon and his intrepid Norwich highway crew, it simply meant more business as usual. The main roads of Norwich would be kept passable, and less than a day after we received a foot and a half of snow, every paved road in town gleaming spotlessly in the sunshine.

Well before the storm arrived, Andy and his team got to work, salting the paved roads to ensure that the fresh snow wouldn’t pack down.

After a few hours of sleep, the team of six were back shortly after midnight to face down the storm itself, plowing over 400 miles of town roads repeatedly, while also finding time to clear the sidewalks and parking lots in the village.

As the snow tapered off, the task at hand was spreading gravel on dirt roads, which can’t be salted (salt+snow+dirt = mud).

Finally, the worst snow piles from the plowing were hauled away, and after working for almost 48 hours straight, the highway department could wrap up a textbook example of public service as yet another job well done.

(Captions: Clockwise: Neal waits to get his truck loaded with gravel 36 hours after work began; A highway department truck spreads gravel on newly plowed Pattrell Road the morning after the storm; While salting in Norwich, Sonny greets a colleague preparing for the brewing storm; Jay Van Armen helps plow the sidewalk on Turnpike Road; Andy Hodgdon gets ready to send off another truck with gravel; Justin plows in the village before daybreak.)

(This story first published in the Spring 2011 Norwich Times)