The in basket: In the previous Road Warrior, Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works discussed discussed the standing plowing priorities during the recent long spell of ice and snow, priorities described on the county’s Web site at www.kitsapgov.com/pw/snowplow.htm.
I asked him to describe how the priorities are put into play when the snow is on the roads.
The out basket: “Our crews began working around-the-clock 12-hour shifts at 11:00 p.m. December 13,” Doug said. “At the beginning of each shift, crews meet with the supervisor or assistant supervisor to discuss priorities for that shift. Plow drivers are assigned a specific area and specific class of road to sand and plow.
“They are in constant contact with the supervisor while they are on the road. In addition we keep a direct line with CenCom and work with them to identify urgent needs from law enforcement, fire and rescue and other emergency responders.
“The plow drivers work on the particular class of road assigned (primary, secondary, etc.) but do have some latitude to vary as conditions warrant. If they see a particular need they radio the supervisor or assistant supervisor (to) get permission to deviate from the priority plowing plan. This was often the case working with Puget Sound Energy to restore power to residents.”
The priority plowing plan “is developed with the help of law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency management (DEM), and other emergency responders. The priority is given to lifeline routes, and to those roads that move the highest volume of traffic,” he said.
“Our crews worked very hard, gave up leave time, and spent nights, weekends, and their Christmas holiday serving others. I’m proud of the response.
As they did following the catastrophic rain storm of Dec. 3, 2007, they’ll be reviewing the response internally, and with emergency providers to ask what could have been done better. “I kept many emails and voice comments we are using to analyze our response and refine our approach,” he said. That review may include evaluation of which roads are designated primary routes and which are not.
Doug also sounds a warning we all should heed.
“This was two weeks of challenges, but imagine a major earthquake with roads damaged beyond repair for months, maybe even years.
“Many residents called saying they had unique circumstances. They have elderly in their neighborhood, they have doctor appointments or surgery scheduled, they are out of medicine, or can’t get to the store.
“Those situations are not unique at all. Most every neighborhood has the same needs. Each of us need to consider our personal needs and do what we can to prepare for what may happen.” Being sure to know your neighbors, getting critical medications refilled for the the longest possible duration and finding out what one’s heating fuel provider can and can’t do in an emergency are good ideas, he said
“While we all pay taxes and certainly are right to assume government can help,” Doug said, “there are going to be times when (it) can’t respond, or can’t respond as quickly as we would like. Each of us needs to be ready to take steps to help ourselves in an emergency. DEM has some great preparedness tips at their website www.kitsapdem.org.”