December 28, 2012

Storm buries North Country


---- — PLATTSBURGH — People were digging out all over the North Country Thursday after a whopper storm brought more than a foot of snow.

“I shoveled a path at the house this morning so we could get out, but by the time we went to leave, it was buried again,” Debbie Fish of Moira said Thursday morning.

She and her husband, John, own and operate White’s Garage on Route 11 and weren’t expecting many customers Thursday.

“It’s awful out there. My daughter-in-law started out for Canton but turned around. And one of our auto-parts guys coming over from Ogdensburg turned around in Massena,” she said.

“We just live in Brushton, but we could hardly get through. ... I wouldn’t go out if I didn’t have to at all. I’d stay home.”


While many people did stay home — evidenced by the scarcity of traffic — others had jobs that required that they be out in the elements.

With heavy snow falling, Port Henry Post Office mail carrier Jerry Smith was making his rounds on Main Street, wearing a heavy jacket, earmuff hat and boots.

“You know the motto,” he said as he went from house to house. “Neither snow nor rain …”

The full creed is “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Its origin is Greek historian Herodotus remarking on the courier service of the ancient Persian empire.

Smith said it is a challenge to deliver mail under blizzard conditions, but he dresses appropriately for the weather and hasn’t had any problems.

“I’ll admit I’d rather be home on a day like this, but this is what I do. I’d be snow-blowing my driveway if I was home.”

The Postal Service said in a news release that its employees “make every reasonable effort to deliver mail in many difficult weather conditions. However, delivery service may be delayed or curtailed whenever streets or walkways present hazardous conditions for letter carriers or when snow is plowed against mailboxes.”

Homeowners were urged to clear sidewalks, steps and mailboxes. The Postal Service also suggests that people who have roadside mailboxes add a reflector and house number to enhance visibility.


Marcel Bibeau of Plattsburgh was busy Thursday clearing snow at Big Apple Audio on Durkee Street in the city.

He works as a part-time handyman for Big Apple owner Bill Ferris and had already cleared snow at rental properties on Oak Street, Robinson Terrace and Fort Brown Drive.

“I’ve done all the properties. I’m about to go do them again,” he said around noon.

Bibeau said it was nice to finally see a snowstorm hit the area.

“We were giddy about it, actually,” he said.

It helped that the snow was light and fluffy, Bibeau said. The lack of pre-existing snowbanks also helped make the cleanup easier.

Bibeau said he was surprised to see city workers out collecting garbage during the storm. 

“It was disturbing to me to watch the garbage men struggle with collections.”

Mayor Donald Kasprzak said the short work week meant the city needed to go through with Thursday’s trash collection.

“Unfortunately, we had a snowstorm that required extra attention and effort by the Department of Public Works. I do approve their efforts during all of this. It’s an outstanding testament to our folks at the Department of Public Works.”


Although snow blowers have become common tools for clearing snow from area driveways, many people still shovel.

Residents should always make sure they are physically able to clear snow and can take steps to reduce injuries.

“Focusing on injury prevention is the most important step people can take,” said Anita Moore, a physical therapist for CVPH Medical Center.

“If people can push snow rather than lift it, they might be better off in preventing injury. You might have to go outside more frequently to move snow by pushing it aside, but it may benefit you in the long run.”

If snow must be lifted, “use a wide stance with your feet spread out,” Moore said. “This will give you a wider base of support, a lower center of gravity and less stress on your back.”

Don’t bend from the waist but instead keep the lower back arched inward and shoulders back to keep your back straight while lifting, she said.

“When you’re moving the snow, pick up your feet and turn to where you want to go (rather than tossing it sideways). This will help prevent twisting the spine, which does put someone at risk for acute injury.”

Moore also suggests more frequent, shorter shoveling “as opposed to staying out and shoveling for two straight hours.”


By early afternoon, Fire Control offices in Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties hadn’t dispatched to a single personal-injury accident. The bulk of the calls were property-damage accidents and cars off the road, dispatchers said.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said they had no major problems in the county as a result of the storm.

“It’s just winter. It’s snowing, but we have no issues so far,” Jaquish said at noon Thursday.

Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said the National Weather Service’s forecasts and accumulation estimates were spot on, so county officials knew exactly what to expect.

“We were prepared. Everybody exercised caution driving today, and everything went well.”

Clinton County Emergency Services Director Eric Day also thought drivers were being cautious, and he noted that plow crews seemed to be keeping up with the snowfall.


Accumulation from Thursday’s storm was expected to total 12 to 18 inches across the North Country, according to the National Weather Service station in Burlington.

But another storm is headed toward the region, said meteorologist Brooke Taber.

“We are watching a storm for the weekend. Right now, that looks like a general light snow. A dusting to several inches.”

— Staff Writer Dan Heath and Editor Lois Clermont also contributed to this report.



Thursday's snowstorm prompted numerous cancellations. 

The City of Plattsburgh Common Council meeting that was to be held Thursday was called off, and those agenda items will be moved to the Jan. 3 meeting. 

The Clinton County Legislature's Plattsburgh International Airport Committee and Finance Committee meetings and the regular session were canceled. The Finance Committee meeting is rescheduled to 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, with the regular session to follow at 5 p.m. 

The Essex County Board of Supervisors postponed its meeting until Monday, Dec. 31. A public hearing will be held at 9:45 a.m. that day on the salaries of elected county officers or those named to a fixed-term. Then, the year-end meeting will start at 10 a.m., with a vote expected on whether to keep Daniel Palmer as county manager. 

The Altona Board of Appeals public hearing planned for Thursday will be rescheduled for early January. 

The Clinton County Youth Court Training was called off, with participants asked to call 565-4754 for rescheduled dates, times and locations. 

The War of 1812 Museum, operated by the Battle of Plattsburgh Association, was closed but will reopen at 10 a.m. today. 

Plattsburgh Town Court wasn't in session; people who were scheduled to appear should be in court on Jan. 3 instead. 

The Clinton County Youth Bureau canceled its Basketball Referee Certification Clinic. That will instead be held 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 2 in the second-floor meeting room of the Old Courthouse Building. Call the Youth Bureau at 565-4750 with any questions.