In what he said will likely be the last press briefing about this snowstorm of the century, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz marshaled department heads at 5:30 p.m. Suzette Robinson, director of public works, took the lead, because, said Mr. Bobkiewicz, “This is now pretty much a Public Works operation.”

Streets

Sheridan Road, which had drifts as high as 15 feet, is “90 percent open, salted, wet and ready to go, Ms. Robinson said.

About 90 percent of the residential streets have had one pass by a snow plow. The primary routes are “better off than they were before,” and crews have begun salting streets, she added. Crews continue to haul snow from the downtown area. “The downtown of tomorrow will look very different,” she said.

Police Chief Richard Eddington urged drivers to be alert for pedestrians. Many people are walking in the road, since so many sidewalks are impassable.

Parking

The Sherman Avenue and Maple Avenue garages remain free until Friday night (midnight), said Parking Manager Ricky Voss. He said the garages are about 60 percent filled. In addition, St. Francis Hospital has offered its parking lot free of charge – tonight only, until 8 a.m. on Thursday – for those who need to get their cars off the street to avoid towing.

Garbage and Recycling

Garbage and recycling pickups will be delayed another day, then pick up where they left off, Ms. Robinson said. For residents of single-family homes, that means Tuesday’s routes will be picked up on Friday, Wednesday’s on Saturday, Thursday’s on Monday, and Tuesday will begin the week as on holiday schedule. (More information will be posted here later).

In a first for Evanston, at least in recent years, City crews will plow alleys to allow garbage trucks to get through. Collecting the garbage is a health issue, Ms. Robinson said.

Utilities

Utilities Department director Dave Stoneback reported that there are a “handful of single customers without power, a lot of the [problems] require property-owners’ action [such as tree trimming] to restore the power.” He said Commonwealth Edison crews are “out there working on” them and added that it looks like Evanston has a lot fewer power outages than Skokie and Chicago.

Police and Health

Chief Eddington said there is a “noticeable uptick” in domestic disturbance and other similar types of calls – “which one would anticipate after being stuck indoors.”

Health director Evonda Thomas urged residents to take precautions against the cold weather expected to arrive this evening and to check family members, the frail and the elderly.

Parks and Recreation

Doug Gaynor, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service, said, “We anticipate snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing on the golf course tomorrow. Open gym at community centers will be available for kids, who will be out of school again. The shelter will be open at Robert Crown.

Fire

Picking up on Mr. Gaynor’s comments, Fire Chief Greg Klaiber said the additional ambulance would be staffed again tomorrow, in light of school cancellations and projected activities at James Park. “Even though sledding is illegal and dangerous there,” said Mr. Bobkiewicz, “some people continue to do it.”

Chief Klaiber also reported increase call volumes for emergency medical services. “We’re handling these calls as well as we can. … When we can’t get directly to the [caller’s] home, we park down the street and carry the patient to the ambulance.”

 

Blade Down, Thumbs Up

What is expected to be the last posting about the Groundhog Day storm comes with a personal note. The City invited members of the media to ride along with snow-plow drivers this afternoon. A RoundTable reporter accompanied Ricky in a large snow plow at 4 p.m. today as he cleaned the streets in North Evanston.

His working day began at 7 a.m. and was scheduled to end at 7 p.m. By the time he picked up his passenger, temperatures had not yet begun to drop and the few people outside were digging out their cars. Most streets on this short field trip had been given “one pass,” that is, a snow plow had been through the street one time. On streets where snow clearing had not begun, Ricky’s pass would not be the first. Typically, you make three passes to clear a street, he said – “one [the first] down the middle, then one on either side. The first plow on a residential street has to be V-shaped, generally pushed by a smaller truck than Ricky’s. After the V-plow, a regular plow can make the next two passes.

Turning north onto Poplar Avenue from Central Street, the plow truck followed the tracks of what may have been a service vehicle. Plowing portions of Jenks, Livingston and Broadway followed.

“It takes about two weeks to learn how to drive a snow plow,” Ricky told his passenger; “to be a good driver … well, that’s something else.”

Ricky appeared to be a careful and attentive driver. Waves and “thumbs up” were typical reactions as the snow plow passed. If he saw a car still hemmed in by the snow – or someone digging out a car – he shifted the blade to give a closer cut, easing the work of the residential diggers and making sure no snow fell from the blade, adding to their work. Waves and “thumbs up” were typical reactions as the snow plow passed. He dropped off his passenger near the pickup point and headed west on Noyes Street, scraping the 18 inches of snow from Evanston’s streets.