Winter arrived fashionably late this year when a snowstorm hit Meridian Township Sunday night, blanketing the community with six to eight inches of snow and causing a Snow Emergency, said Ken Plaga, the township’s police chief.
A Snow Emergency might sound daunting, but don’t be alarmed, said Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh, “it’s actually quite simple.”
“We’ve certainly had six to seven inches of snow before so we don’t want to dramatize this,” said Walsh. “The Snow Emergency simply means is we’re asking or requesting people not to leave their cars in the street.”
After a Snow Emergency is declared, people have 24 hours to remove their vehicles from residential roads, and they have four hours to remove vehicles from main roads like Grand River and Hagadorn Roads.
Clearing the roads made it easier for plow trucks to get through, said Plaga. Snow Emergencies are also used to make sure cars don’t get blocked in.
“When there’s large volumes of snow they can have difficulties getting out, and it just compounds itself if we are to get additional snow,” Plaga said.
As Monday turned to Tuesday, Meridian life slowed down. Businesses closed early, schools were cancelled and residents went home to their warm houses. However, snow plow operators were still hard at work.
Spencer Anchorage, 24, had been working through the night to plow out residential driveways and walkways. After a 30-hour work shift, Anchorage said his job still wasn’t done.
“There are more customers that cannot find a provider for snow removal every winter,” he said. “When it’s snowy and icy outside, there’s just not enough of us.”
Anchorage said he doesn’t mind the hours of hard work. He’s had a passion for shoveling snow since he was a little kid. He grew up in front of Capital Region International Airport in downtown Lansing and remembers the snow mounds as a kid.
“I remember it was really thick and really heavy,” he said. “The snow plows would come down the street and I remember seeing it knock out the mailbox and mail would slide everywhere. It was crazy.”
His love for the snow turned to entrepreneurship as a young adult. He recalled his mom driving him around to shovel his neighbors’ driveways for money when he was a teenager. Years later, Anchorage decided to start his own snow removal company, but for more reasons than to make money.
“The whole reason I started the company is not only because snow is fun to play in, but I wanted quality customer service.”
But playing in the snow isn’t all fun and games. Mental fatigue can sometimes tire out a plow truck operator quicker than physical fatigue.
“My partner had to stop working with me at 3 a.m. because of fatigue,” he said. “You work for 12 hours and you’re good.”
To combat this, Anchorage said he likes to work with a partner to keep a comradery going and stay alert among other things.
“Listening to music definitely helps,” he said. “Lots of rock and roll, hip-hop … Picking up a pizza and eating on the go. Energy drinks and coffee, too.”
Along with the snow came frigid temperature. By Wednesday the Okemos area experienced temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit, according to www.forecast.weather.gov.
Dangerous temperatures meant snow plow operators would have to retire for the day in order to protect the equipment, according to Anchorage. This in turn meant an end for the Snow Emergency, according to the Meridian Township Police Office.
Temperatures will reach up to 50 degrees by the following weekend, according to www.forecast.weather.gov.
Come the weekend, the Snow Emergency will be a cold, hazy memory of the past for most Meridian residents. Except for Anchorage, he said, he will be eagerly waiting for the next snow storm to hit.
Click here to: listen to Spencer Anchorage
Click here to: see pictures of Meridian Township during the Snow Emergency