Responding to winter weather a two-way street


It’s only the first week of the semester and students are already getting scared out of attending class by blizzard warnings, below-zero temperatures and angry-looking snow plows spraying their dirty slush far and wide.

Trudging down uncleared sidewalks full of snow is the last thing discouraged students need. Not only is it inconvenient, it presents a safety hazard that the university, the city of DeKalb and local businesses should be doing their best to avoid.

The city proved it has a plan for salt distribution; 3,600 tons of NaCL have been ordered for this season. Salt distribution, however, is only part of the equation that makes for a safe snow season.

It’d be tough to find a single student who didn’t struggle this week to bypass mounds of piled snow, deep drifts and slick concrete. Sidewalks continue to be covered and recovered by snow as the precipitation slows but the winds pick up.

Maintenance time and money is in high demand, but winter weather occurs every year without fail. Everyone in DeKalb should be prepared for a midwest winter. For the amount of people who are served by the city or the university, quicker response time should be strived for in winter weather cleanup. As long as the snow keeps falling, blowing and drifting, cleanup should continue. No one should feel like they can’t leave their homes, apartments or dorm rooms because the streets and sidewalks present a hazard.

After asking what our city can do for us, we should ask what we can do for our city. There are several ways that citizens and travelers through DeKalb can make snow maintenance easier and winter travel more safe. Not only does parking illegally rack up fines for motorists, it prevents plows from sufficiently doing their jobs. Motorists should be aware of forecasts and street signs with special directions for snowy weather. Those directions need to be followed in order for snow cleanup to be successful.

The city also requests residents who live near fire hydrants to shovel around them, so in the event of an emergency, the hydrants can be easily identified and accessed. While it’s an easy request to ignore, it’s also an easy task to accomplish while keeping everyone’s safety and well-being in mind. If residents clear the snow around the hydrants, it’s one less expense that the city needs to worry about paying for.

Winter weather brings headaches to everyone and although it gets said every year, this season has been particularly hard to navigate through. The snowfall has already exceeded the amount that fell in DeKalb by this time last year by more than 12 inches. As it’s only mid-January, everyone should continue to prepare for unpredictable weather, dangerous conditions and additional outdoor maintenance.