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Cleveland residents, city plows continue to dig out of massive winter storm

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 18, 2022

CLEVELAND — As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, Cleveland snowplow crews had serviced just over 70% of the city’s 10,000 residential streets and remained hopeful that the remaining snow-covered side streets would be plowed by Tuesday night, city officials said. However, for some residents in Old Brooklyn, the city’s largest and hardest-hit neighborhood, their frustration continues to grow as they continue to wait.

Parts of Old Brooklyn recorded as much as 15 inches of snow between Sunday night and Monday morning, placing it near the top of the list for highest snow totals in Cuyahoga County. Although city snowplows have cleared the vast majority of snow on some of the city’s major roads and arteries, many side streets remain virtually impassable.

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Treadway Avenue, which is located near the intersection of Spring and Broadview Roads, was especially treacherous on Tuesday afternoon as multiple drivers — even those with all-wheel drive — had difficulty driving more than a few feet without getting stuck again.

“We can’t get out of out the house. We can’t go to school. We can’t go work,” said resident Tina Forsey. “I’m a taxpayer. I own my home but I can’t even get out of my yard. What am I supposed to do?”

Newly-elected Ward 12 Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer and newly-elected Ward 13 Councilman Kristopher Harsh were inundated with calls from residents on Monday and Tuesday, reporting that their streets had yet to be plowed.

Both Maurer and Harsh expressed frustration at the city’s response to the winter storm. Maurer told News 5 that the new City Council and Mayor Justin Bibb’s administration need to take the response as a learning opportunity to figure out what went wrong and how to improve upon it in the future.

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City officials told council members in a lunchtime update that it generally takes the Division of Public Works between 24 and 48 hours to clear the city’s 10,000 residential streets during snow events of this size. Approximately 71% of the city’s subsections of residential streets had been plowed as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“I woke up and I thought I was in Fargo, North Dakota,” said resident Ron Gillihan. “I’m disappointed but I figured the city is just bogged down and they can’t get to it all. Eventually, they’ll get it done. They always do. Every winter they do. Sometimes they get it done faster than other times.”

In an interview on Monday night, Mayor Justin Bibb said city crews have been and will be working across all three shifts to hit as many streets as they can, as quickly as they can. Although the city deployed every resource it had, Cleveland, like other municipalities, has been impacted by the national shortage of snowplow drivers.

“I believe there's always room for improvement to make sure we're delivering high-quality basic city services for our residents.” Mayor Bibb said on Monday night. “Due to the pandemic, there has been a major national shortage of snowplow truck drivers. And so this is a national crisis that many of my peer mayors across the country are dealing with.”