New Bedford comes through blizzard in good shape

While some local leaders are feeling the heat for lousy snow removal, New Bedford's winning fairly good reviews, even though some of its equipment was damaged in the blizzard from this past weekend.

There are two departments -- the North End and the South End -- that separately deal with snow removal in New Bedford. Put together on average they both had one-third of their equipment damaged in the blizzard.

Most of the damage was to transmissions, axles and blades, particularly on the smaller vehicles of the New Bedford snow removal fleet.

"There's a big difference between plowing 6 inches of snow and 18 or 20 inches of snow like we had. Smaller plows on pickup trucks have a much more difficult time pushing heavier snow. Most of the bigger trucks did OK," Mayor Jon Mitchell said.

Just like other communities across Southern New England, the blizzard dealt a big punch.

"It's hard to drive around. Everybody's cars stuck and they try to push their car to the limit," said John Nascimento of New Bedford.

Jeffrey Silva wasn't too impressed with the storm.

"I've seen some people get stuck, average stuff that happens in the snow," he said.

Councilman Steve Martins represents Ward 2, the area just north of Interstate 195.

"It's a lot of snow that we had to clear off the streets. To say that the city was operational 48 hours later from a storm like that that hit New Bedford, it certainly deserves to be well noted," Martins said.

The average cost for repair per truck $500. Most of them have been fixed or are coming out of the repair shop now. A greater percentage of South End vehicles were damaged.

On Friday, some of that snow that measured nearly a foot-and-a-half with bigger drifts was melting and pouring into storm drains all across the Spindle City, a welcome sound to snow-removal departments all across Southern New England.

"This year's snow removal budget was $300,000. Last year was $300,000. We barely made a dent in it last year. We only had one major snowfall last year. This year we've exceeded the snow budget. We'll get reimbursement in all likelihood from FEMA at a rate of about three-quarters of our cost in overtime and repairs and other things," Mitchell said.

While private contractors cost more money, they will be able to bring them in, in case there is a gap in snow removal coverage for the rest of the winter weather season.