On Saturday, January 7, Delaware experienced the first snowfall of 2017 as Winter Storm Helena made its debut in the First State. Residents experienced up to 8 inches of powdery snow and road conditions became hazardous as the day progressed. Governor Jack Markell declared a Limited State of Emergency in Sussex County, requesting that all vehicles that were on the road “must exercise extreme caution. DELDOT and local municipal street crews could be seen Saturday and Sunday cleaning up the effects of Winter Storm Helena’s Saturday course.
“While the road and weather conditions have improved enough to lift the State of Emergency, I continue to urge people to avoid driving when possible in Sussex and Kent Counties to allow DelDOT to continue to plow efficiently,” said Governor Markell on Sunday. “If you must be on the roads, please continue to drive cautiously and keep your distance from the plows. I thank all of the DElDOT workers who have responded to this storm and all of the residents who have heeded our calls for caution today.”
Away from the roadways, many local families took advantage of the snow as they ventured outside. Laura Lord of Milford said her children enjoyed the snow several times and while inside, they played cards and drank hot chocolate together. “Nothing better than a lazy Saturday while it’s snowing. We did not travel at all, we didn’t need to go anywhere,” said Lord. Her husband Sergeant Lord of the Milford Police Department was on patrol during the storm and kept the family and neighbors up to date on the conditions.
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The Vadnais family of Milford woke up early to start their snow day as their oldest daughter Jade began shoveling at 7:30am on Saturday. She and her brother Heron constructed a fort. The entire family made their way to Dolce Bakery and Coffee Shop for coffee, cocoa and treats in downtown Milford admist the snow flurries and cold temperatures. More shoveling, fort making and some flatland sledding rounded out the day.
Both local families enjoyed the snow and are looking forward for more to come, as long as it does not affect the school calendar. “We’re looking forward to another snow, and maybe a snow day from school,” said Lord. “but we’re also on a countdown to Memorial Day already.”
With several local school districts cancelling school for students on Monday, January 9, City of Milford crews continued the work they had started over the weekend to plow and treat local roads. According to City Manager Eric Norenberg, downtown municipal parking lots were cleared and city owned sidewalks have been cleared and treated with deicing material.
“I am always gratified to see how all personnel from our Public Works Department pull together in a crisis to serve our community,” said Norenberg. “It doesn’t matter if someone works in the Water/Wastewater Division or Streets Division, everyone helps with plowing to get Milfordians on the road to work or school safely as soon as possible.”
Snow amounts across the city of Milford varied greatly, from about 3.5 inches in the northern part of the city to 8 inches in the southern part of the city. This was Mark Whitfield’s, Milford’s Public Works Director, first taste of winter weather in Delaware after being hired last July.
“Crews pretty much had everything cleaned up by noon on Sunday,” reported Public Works Director Mark Whitfield. “The temperatures on Sunday did not aid in the melting, but the sun did help. Fortunately, the predicted warmer temperatures later this week should make this storm a quick memory.”
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