Road crews, worn out by ice, prepare for new snow

As Rick Seymour recovers from what he calls “one of the longest weekends of my life,” he’s bracing for another hit from Mother Nature.

Seymour is the Merrimack public works director, and he and other local road agents are still cleaning up after last week’s devastating ice storm.

Now they have to prepare for possibly 6 to 12 inches of snow predicted to fall by midnight today, plus another possible storm Sunday.

“It’s kind of a triple threat,” said Seymour, whose crew keeps 160 miles of Merrimack roads clear.

Among his 15 employees are some who are tired from working overtime while they’re trying to cope with the problems connected to power outages in their own homes, he said.

But at least the next storm will hit in the afternoon, he said, “so we don’t have to pull people out of sleep. They’ve done a great job so far.”

Today’s snowstorm is expected to start in the late morning or early afternoon, dumping 1 to 2 inches an hour before tapering to snow showers during the evening.

In the small town of Brookline, Gerald Farwell is the entire road department. After the ice storm last Thursday, he worked all night, with the help of the fire department, keeping the roads clear of thousands of downed trees.

As of Thursday afternoon, all roads were open except Beaver Pond Drive, off Wallace Brook Road.

“I’m as prepared as I ever will be” for the coming storm, Farwell said, adding he hopes people would try to stay off Brookline roads as much as possible.

Milford roads are in good shape, said DPW director Bill Ruoff, although there are isolated areas of town where wires on the road make them difficult to clear.

“We are preparing” for the storm, he said. “The guys are getting the trucks ready and also watching weather forecasts for another storm predicted for Sunday and Monday.”

Ruoff says he’s careful to make sure all his men get enough sleep and good meals, and don’t “work around the clock.”

All of the road agents want everyone to know their crews can’t do anything about trees that are on power lines until Public Service of New Hampshire clears the lines.

“We have strict rules about not touching anything that’s sitting on a power line,” Ruoff said.

The public has been patient with cleanup efforts, he said, only calling his department with inquiries and not to complain.

Lyndeborough road agent Kent Perry couldn’t be reached, but the Dec. 14 update on the town’s emergency line, 654-5955, said the town might not be able to plow some roads because of power line “entanglement issues.” The phone message also urges people to be extremely careful about brush and power lines still on the roadsides.