Snow shuts down Delaware, again [slide show]

Delaware Governor Jack Markell and state officials continue to monitor the winter storm that has once again shut down schools, government agencies and many businesses across the First State.

The latest winter storm will add to millions of dollars the state has already spent on storm maintenance.  The driving warnings issues last night and into Monday morning had been lifted by early afternoon in Nothern Delaware.  It was lifted at 4pm in Sussex County.

The state typically budgets about $3.5 million for snow removal but Gov. Markell said they’ve gone way over that budget.

“Before this storm we spent $13 million on snow removal, 77,000 tons of salt, 80,000 hours of overtime. This storm will only add to all of those figures,” said Markell.

However, he said public safety is a top priority.

“The budgetary issue is a concern but we also don’t have a choice,” he said. “We do have to clear the roads so people can get to work and get to their doctor’s appointments, so people can get to school.”

A State of Emergency Level One driving warning was issued Sunday night for the state, however the governor said he’ll lift the driving warning at 2 p.m. for New Castle County as the snow tapers off.

Delaware’s major roads such as I-95, I-495 and Route 1 continue to be the Delaware Department of Transportation’s main focus and secondary roads might still be difficult for drivers to navigate.

“Because of the rate of the snowfall, it will be sometime before we can meaningfully address secondary roads that are covered in snow and ice,” said Markell. “Some secondary roads might not be tended to until the snowfall stops later today.”

Downstate, EMS officials have handled a busy morning and continue to urge residents not test the roadways. Sleet and freezing rain mixed with the snow throughout Kent and Sussex Counties.  Beach towns like Rehoboth were a mixture of pretty snow scenes and residents who bore a look of having scrapped off windshields one too many times this winter.

“The public needs to take this seriously and heed the advice to avoid travel. So far, we’ve had more than 30 accidents, mostly minor,” said Sussex County Emergency Operations Center Director Joseph Thomas.  

Markell advised residents to check in with elderly or disabled neighbors.

The state is also doing its part to be neighborly by loaning salt.

“We have received a request from Newark, we have received a request from a couple of hospitals. We’re trying to share with people,” said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt, who added that they’re expecting a 15,000 ton shipment of salt this week.

Temperatures could reach single digits tonight, icing over accumulation on the roads. The governor said they’ll continue to work with the National Weather Service for the latest weather updates.

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