GREENFIELD — One would think Wednesday’s blizzard would have put a damper on the spirits of Greenfield Street Department employees. After all, snow blew across city streets just as quickly as plows could clear them, erasing any sign of the work that was just done.
Moreover, blizzard conditions here Wednesday forced 12-hour shifts and hazardous conditions many of them hadn’t seen in years.
It didn’t matter to them a bit.
Instead, the snow plow drivers and salt spreaders were taking the storm in stride as they worked to clear – and reclear – city roads for most of the day.
“We expect the worst and hope for the best,” said Curt Anderson, who has been with the city department five years.
Wednesday was the worst winter storm Anderson has seen, and he admitted it’s frustrating to plow a street only to turn around five minutes later and see it covered again.
“It’s just like, ‘Man, I was just here!’” he said. “It’s not a bad frustration, but it is what it is.”
The city street workers got phone calls about the impending blizzard from their bosses on Christmas Day and several came in at 1 a.m. Wednesday to start pretreating streets with salt.
That helped in some areas, but the blowing and heavy snowfall made visibility low. Anderson even slid off into a ditch on Blue Road, having gotten too close to the edge. Another truck driver got him out in a matter of seconds, but Anderson said even large trucks are susceptible to hazardous conditions.
“The visibility was the worst thing of all,” said street Superintendent Jim Hahn. “It was less than one-eighth of a mile; you couldn’t see probably 100 yards in front of you. It was that bad.”
Hahn said by early Wednesday afternoon he was pleased with how the streets looked. Even though they were still messy and winds kept blowing the snow back, main thoroughfares were fairly clear throughout the city.
Long hours clearing streets eventually results in fatigue weighing on all drivers, but Brad Evans said he just keeps moving forward. Evans, assistant street superintendent, said this was one of the worst storms he’s seen in years.
Still, Evans’ truck was toasty warm as he effortlessly maneuvered three levers of a plow and two knobs to release salt, all while driving on narrow neighborhood streets.
“You have to have a knack for it,” Evans said.
As winds picked up around 11 a.m. and at times there were white-out conditions, few cars were brave enough to head out on minor city streets. Still, Evans said he’d rather people not be out on the roads at all.
“This is a real fine, heavy wet snow,” he said. “This is about as bad as it gets in having to plow it. It’s just so fine and it makes it look cloudy; you can’t see oncoming traffic.”
Visibility was so low that Evans was thankful to be plowing for the city and not the county, whose drivers have to deal with more drifting from open fields.
“I really feel sorry for the ones out in the county because you really can’t see,” he said. “We’ve got the benefit of mailboxes to tell us where the road is.”
Hancock County Highway Superintendent Joe Copeland said county crews were on the roads early Wednesday morning.
“They’re plowing, it’s just that it blows back,” Copeland said. “It’s just typical of winds like this. It’s not as bad as it could be, but a little time and (the snow is) right back to where it was before.”
Though high winds were expected to continue through Wednesday evening, both Copeland and Hahn said they expect roads to be cleared throughout today.
Greenfield street employee Ryan Kinder said he was glad to be working Wednesday, and actually got excited when he received the phone call on Christmas Day about the storm.
Kinder was born in 1978, the year of the last major blizzard that struck Indiana.
“I’ve never been in a blizzard condition, and now I’ve witnessed it,” Kinder said. “It’s overwhelming because we’re going to be out here 48 hours.”
After a long shift, Kinder was wearing down a little and even said he hopes this is the only big storm of the winter. Still, he was looking on the bright side.
“To tell you the truth, I think it’s pretty,” he said.