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Mid-Atlantic Recovers From Record-Setting Snow

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The mid-Atlantic states are still digging out - that's after a record-setting snowstorm over the weekend. Snowfall totals reached two feet or higher here in Washington, also in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and three feet in parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. And there will be no rest for the weary. Weather reports say more snow is on the way tomorrow.

NPR's Larry Abramson collected a few storm stories for us from across the region.

LARRY ABRAMSON: This winter has been brutal for many mid-Atlantic states, but the silver lining in these clouds has been the fact that once again the storm hit over a weekend, giving snow crews a chance to clear away most of the mountains of snow before the Monday commute started.

(Soundbite of digging)

ABRAMSON: These crews were clearing in front of the State House in Annapolis, Maryland. The path to work for residents of the nation's capitol was pretty clear, especially compared to decades past when some neighborhoods waited weeks for a plow. The federal government made that job even easier by staying closed on Monday. That kept about a quarter of a million workers off the roads and off of public transit. But it didn't help Donald Newdecker(ph). He's an engineering contractor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mr. DONALD NEWDECKER (Engineering Contractor, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration): Well, but we're contractors and contractors have to work. Never. We're never closed. That's what our management tells us.

ABRAMSON: Newdecker had tried to drive into D.C. from suburban Maryland, but found the roads too challenging. He turned to public transit, but trains and buses were few in number and greatly delayed. So despite Newdecker's dedication1 to his job, he was stuck at Union Station near the U.S. Capitol.

(Soundbite of announcement)

Unidentified Man: Train number 174 en route to Boston South Station will be slightly delayed due to late arrival.

ABRAMSON: Amtrak passengers were just as frustrated. Edna Lumley(ph) sat nearby. She'd been a prisoner of her hotel in Virginia where she was taking a training course.

Ms. EDNA LUMLEY: I'm delayed. I tried to leave on Saturday night and I have been delayed ever since. Got here this morning, thought I had a 10 a.m. train and now I'm leaving at 6:30 tonight.

ABRAMSON: Where are you trying to go?

Ms. LUMLEY: Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm so close, but so far away.

ABRAMSON: Yeah. You almost could've walked there.

Ms. LUMLEY: Almost, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ABRAMSON: Once Lumley gets to Charlottesville, she doesn't know how she'll get home through the foot and a half of snow that awaits her there. Inevitably, big storms here trap residents of snowier places who wonder at the snow paralysis syndrome common here. John Norcross(ph) of Missoula, Montana was stuck at Reagan National Airport, which resumed flights only this morning.

Mr. JOHN NORCROSS: With as much warning as they had for this storm coming in, they could've brought equipment from outside of the area. No, they basically shut the town down a day before the snow even hit.

ABRAMSON: The judgment on just how well road crews have done in the storm depends on whether your street has been plowed. Even the semi-famous faced a lot of work. Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Katherine Townsend says she only made it to Baltimore's Penn Station with the help of a close relative.

Ms. KATHERINE TOWNSEND (Former Lieutenant Governor, Maryland): My husband spent 10 hours in the last two days shoveling out not only our driveway, but the road in front of our house which wasn't shoveled out. So he is a hero.

ABRAMSON: There were some who were not happy with snow crews' performance. Plow drivers are working overtime and that means local budgets for snow removal are busting. Maryland State Highway administrator Neil Pedersen seems resigned to the fact that he is probably already over his state's $60 million budget for removal. But like others in this profession, he says he can't cut corners.

Mr. NEIL PEDERSEN (Administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration): We will do whatever we need to do to be fighting these storms to be making the roads as safe as possible. And we will do what we need to do and we will later figure out how we reallocate resources.

ABRAMSON: That resolve will be tested anew tomorrow when more snow arrives in time for the afternoon commute. So the burden will be somewhat lighter now that the federal government has decided to remain closed.

Larry Abramson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Larry Abramson is NPR's National Security Correspondent. He covers the Pentagon, as well as issues relating to the thousands of vets returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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