By Hannah Lang and Zach Melvin
While University of Maryland students hunkered down Friday to prepare for Winter Storm Jonas, university employees bundled up to dust off the snow plows.
The storm, which dumped about 19 inches of snow in the area and delayed the start of spring semester by two days, hit right before spring move-in, forcing the Department of Resident Life to push the first day of move-in to Friday with the hope that some students could beat the storm.
“I don’t think we’ve ever dealt with a snow storm hitting right when students are coming back to campus,” said Armand Scala, Department of Transportation Services senior associate director. “In our case, we’re having to use our Bobcats in front of our plow to move snow because the snow is so heavy.”
DOTS, Residential Facilities and University Recreation & Wellness teamed up to supply most of the equipment and staff necessary to clear the snow, Landscape Services and Arboretum & Botanical Garden Associate Director Bill Monan said.
Monan’s 42-member staff arrived Friday morning and started working 12-hour shifts to shovel steps and sidewalks. Additionally, 10 employees worked through the night, and 40 contract laborers rotated throughout the day.
In preparation for the university’s opening on Wednesday, about 150 employees were assigned to buildings around the campus to treat sidewalks with ice melt and remove snow and ice from ramps and steps.
Elmer Rodriguez, a subcontractor for this university, has worked about 86 hours since Friday, taking two four-hour breaks each day.
“I have never seen this much snow,” Rodriguez said. “Since living in the United States, this has been the biggest storm that I have ever seen.”
To allow facilities management staff to plow snow more efficiently, DOTS urged students and other parking registrants to move their vehicles to on-campus parking garages.
Clearing the snow from parking lots was necessary for the university to reopen, DOTS Director David Allen said.
“The part that’s the most pressure-packed is: ‘How am I going to get to school? Where am I going to be able to park? What’s going to be available?'” Allen said.
“It’s important that people keep up with our Twitter feed and Facebook page so they can know what’s going on with parking and what’s going on with the shuttle system.”
There is usually no Shuttle-UM service when the university is closed, but this week was an exception, Allen said. Shuttle-UM ran on a modified Sunday schedule Monday and Tuesday that included on-campus circulation routes.
While transportation around the campus was up and running on Monday, Tuesday marked the first day that many students were even capable of leaving their homes.
Isaac Lerman, a freshman finance major from Owings Mills, had originally planned on moving in on Saturday, but the snow kept him at home until the roads were clear enough to drive.
“Our roads weren’t plowed for two days,” Lerman said. “We couldn’t get here because the county was overbooked with plowing, so we couldn’t get to the streets.”
The storm proved particularly challenging for students flying into the region. Senior Spanish major Ashleigh Bondoc was set to return from a winter term in Argentina on Saturday, but the snow caused major changes to her flight plan.
“On Friday afternoon we found out that our layover in Chile was extended from two to 15 hours,” she said. “Our connecting flight from JFK to Reagan was canceled. My flight got rebooked from JFK to La Guardia and would have left at 6 p.m. to Boston, but at that point my friend’s dad just decided to drive us down.”
Karen Petroff, assistant director of Arboretum and Horticultural Services, wrote in an email that “we are approaching 95 percent completion [of snow removal] in terms of area.”
“We will continue to work on all remaining obstacles, both day and night, including removing remaining snow piles from road plowing from sidewalks, widening of roads and restoration of full connectivity,” Petroff wrote.