SEATTLE -- Seattle city leaders are bracing for the next big anticipated snowfall while learning lessons from last year’s snowiest February on record.
Officials said this year, they’re going to be cracking down when it comes to keeping sidewalks clear because it was such a problem last year.
How could anyone forget that monster snow last February? Cars were left spinning out and folks digging out for days.
Seattle city leaders didn’t forget either and they want to make sure they’re ahead of any curve balls Mother Nature throws.
“We want people to be safe, people need to stay safe, be patient, be kind,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said. “If you’re not ready, get ready.”
Officials said if the snow hits, don’t expect your roads to be plowed right away.
The city has 35 snow plow trucks to clear 70 million square feet in Seattle and officials said routes with emergencies and hospitals will take priority.
Leaders said one of the biggest challenges last snow storm was clear sidewalks.
“Many people didn’t understand that homeowners, apartment owners, have the obligation to keep their sidewalks clear,” Durkan said. “So, if you see that snow? Do your job and if you can’t, get people to help you.”
Clark Matthews, who’s in a wheelchair, said he was stranded his home for two weeks because of snow on his sidewalk.
He’s encouraged city leaders warn they could fine people if they don’t comply to shoveling their sidewalks.
According to Seattle Department of Transportation, in residential zones, the fine for ignoring a warning to shovel sidewalks is $50. For non-residential properties, the fine is $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $,1000 for the third.
“People were saying like, 'when’s the city going to shovel my sidewalk and they’re supposed to do this stuff' and people genuinely didn’t know,” said Matthews. “So, tackling that ignorance and letting people know our duty is to each other.”
SDOT officials are also making sure plow routes are synced with metro bus and school bus routes so people aren’t stranded again.
“Don’t drive if you don’t have to during a snow storm,” said SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe. “If you must drive, please slow down and be careful. Watch out for others and leave plenty of room for snow plows.”
Officials said last year 350 workers worked 24/7 for nine days in a row to keep the city moving.
Whatever comes this year, they say preparation is everything.
“I think many people remember what the experience was in hardware stores and grocery stores last February,” said Barb Graff with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management. “Don’t wait until the first quarter inch of snow is on the sidewalks already, do your shopping now.”
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