After monster storm, some may be stuck in neutral for days

As more than 20 inches of snow from the weekend winter storm starts to melt across Philadelphia, many residents are still waiting for their streets to be cleared.

“You can’t drive through or walk through, it’s very unusual,” said South Philly resident Joe Marino of a snow tower in the middle of the street. Created by snow plows, the frosty accumulation stretches along the 1100 block of Emily Street, just around the corner from his place.

“We traditionally have been like the surface of the moon in this area of South Philly,” said Marino, who co-chairs the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association. “When we get a blizzard like this, and I’ve been living here my whole life, it goes four days before they do anything.”

It’s better this time around — Marino added that maybe it doesn’t hurt that Mayor Jim Kenney hails from South Philly. But it still feels inconsistent, he said.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“Some streets were mildly impacted, and then there were other streets that had a mountain of snow in front of them,” he said. “I just don’t know. I wish I did. I wish they made it clearer what their rationale and mechanism is for deciding how to do this.”

Others experienced the snow-mountain phenomenon.

Kelly Ray, who lives off Broad Street in the Callowhill neighborhood, said plows cleared his entire street. Then they dragged a giant snow stack in the middle of his street, which, after some hours, was pushed out by city vehicles.

His car, however, was a casualty of this clearing method. It was parked adjacent to the former snow mountain.

“I just spent a half-hour clearing snow from three sides of my car,” Ray said. “And then another half hour, barely putting a dent in the rock hard mountain of ice on the street side of my car.

“Not a happy camper right now!”

At a briefing Monday afternoon, Mayor Jim Kenney pleaded for patience from residents.

“We’re getting to your streets,” he said.  “We haven’t forgotten you.”

Kenney said there will be free parking all day Monday. The usually hawkish PPA will not be enforcing at all, the mayor said, giving motorists a reprieve while everyone continues to dig out. 

Smaller streets, the mayor said, require a Bobcat miniature bulldozer that can sometimes take up to 45 minutes to clear of snow. Major arteries, meanwhile, can be snow-free in just a few minutes. 

Mayor: Passable streets by Wednesday

Though the city lifted the snow emergency Sunday night, allowing vehicles to park along emergency routes, the cleanup effort is far from complete. City plows fanned across neighborhoods Monday attempting to create paths that have all weekend been encased in white stuff.

All streets should be passable by the end of the day Wednesday, Kenney said. 

But with district schools closed and scores of residents unable to dislodge their vehicles from snow-clogged streets, frustration is in the air.

Most major thoroughfares — including Broad, Market and Spring Garden — have been cleared out and are now left with a thin layer of dirty slush. But residents say areas beyond Center City have been neglected.

“Yeah, like South Philadelphia is a lot worse than Center City, you know, by Oregon and stuff,” said Omar Tulatte, a pizza delivery guy who said he’s getting stuck every few miles.

“I don’t know why they don’t clean. I hope they clean it up later, you know?”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal