By Terry Rogers
Milford and the surrounding area are digging out after Winter Storm Jonas dropped as much as 12 inches of snow over the weekend. The storm arrived Friday afternoon around 3pm and continued throughout Saturday, into the early morning hours of Sunday. During the day Saturday, some areas began experiencing sleet, freezing rain and rain, but that changed back to all snow around noon.
“In preparation for the storm, the street division outfitted trucks with plows and salt spreaders early in the week,” Eric Norenberg, Milford City Manager, said. “In some areas, the roads were presalted. Chainsaws and other equipment were prepared as well. Over the past few years, the Electric Department has been working to trim trees and minimize the chance that branches could impact power outages. Milford had one power outage on Saturday morning. It impacted customers on N. Walnut, some traffic signals downtown and customers in the area of Route 113. It took a couple of hours to repair and reenergize the circuit.” Delmarva Power and Delaware Electric Co-op both reported many outages during the storm. On Sunday morning, Delmarva Power reported that they had restored power to 48,700 customers, many of whom were in Sussex County, the area hardest hit by the high winds that occurred during the storm.
By Sunday afternoon, most streets were passable. Milford and DelDOT crews were still plowing and salting roadways. The sunshine was assisting in melting the snow on many primary roads, despite the cold temperatures. Mr. Norenberg said that cars parked on city streets made it more difficult to plow, but that crews were working to get as many streets plowed as possible.
Drifting was a major problem on Saturday with sustained winds during the storm reaching as high as 40 miles per hour and wind gusts as high as 70 miles per hour. Downed trees and limbs were also a concern in roadways and near power lines. According to DelDOT, crews remained on the road throughout the weekend, clearing roads. On Saturday, plows focused on primary roads and were unable to work on secondary roads due to the continuing snowfall and drifts.
“One of the best things you can do during a snowstorm like this is to stay off the roads,” Jim Westhoff, DelDOT Community Relations Officer, said. “Saturday, we had a Level 2 driving ban, which means that no person may operate a motor vehicle on Delaware roadways, except for persons designated as essential personnel or who have received a waiver from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.” A violation of the Level 2 driving restrictions can bring a fine of up to $115 for the first offense and up to $200 plus 30 days in jail for subsequent offenses.
Flooding was a significant problem in the area. Roads leading to Slaughter Beach, Prime Hook and South Bowers were all closed due to flooding. The town of Milford was not spared from flooding, although not all flooding was caused by rising waters in the Mispillion.
“Early Sunday morning, there was a water main break at the intersection of Southeast Second Street and Washington Street,” Mr. Norenberg said. “This took several hours to repair and resulted in ice-covered streets afterward. Late Saturday afternoon, rising waters on the Mispillion River flooded parts of downtown, closing portions of Park Avenue, Church, Washington and Northeast Front Streets. As of Sunday morning, the streets were passable again, but there were areas of standing water and ice in gutter areas as well as some parking lots. We do not yet have reports of damage from the flooding. Parks and Recreation will inspect the Riverwalk as soon as the snow melts to assess any damage.”
Mr. Norenberg agreed with Mr. Westhoff, saying that the best things people can do during storms like this is to stay off the roads and remain indoors, which most people did on Friday night and through Saturday. He also said registering for CodeRed at the city website would allow people to receive emergency notifications throughout any storms that may occur.
“I cannot thank our City crews enough for the teamwork and valiant work to clear streets and parking lots of snow and ice,” Mr. Norenberg said. “This is hard work that requires concentration and care. Milfordians are fortunate to have a great team they can rely on.”