The snow fell across Philadelphia, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, blanketing the region with nearly 16 inches of snow. This snow accumulated on top of the snow that was still on the streets from the previous week's storm. The Nor'Easter that pounded the region for over 24 hours brought traffic in the city to a standstill. Philadelphia schools and city government offices were closed. SEPTA stopped public transportation with the exception of the subways and rails. Germantown, with narrow streets and cobblestoned Germantown Avenue, was snowed in.
Germantown residents began digging out their homes and vehicles, an overwhelming process that continued well into the week-end. By Saturday morning, many cars on side streets were still barely visible under mounds of snow and ice. Other cars were surrounded by walls of piled-up snow, where residents worked hard to dig their cars out from the entrapment made by the work of the snow plows.
Kareem Shimet began digging out his car parked near the corner of Germantown and Duval streets on Saturday morning. He said he only saw a snow plow on the street one time, and complained that they plowed without putting any salt down. He had a big concern that he would lose his parking spot after spending the morning digging out. He thought he might put a chair in the spot, but didn't think it would help. "Some of the neighbors move the chairs and stuff," said Shimet.
Two high-school girls from Germantown, Alesa Jenkins and Kristin Taylor, described how they were trying to walk downtown without falling on the icy sidewalks. Their quiet back streets were barely plowed. They were concerned because their elderly neighbors could not dig out and it was hard for them to get around. The girls said they had been out of school all week except for Tuesday and now they were worried how they would get to school on Monday. "For the years coming they should plan for stuff like this," said Taylor. "They know we are in a Northeastern state, we're gonna get a lot of snow."
Thomas de Marco recently moved to Germantown and lives right on Germantown Avenue. He said that the city plows kept the main street open through the storm. De Marco said Germantown Ave is supposed to be a snow emergency route but the police didn't enforce it. As a result, the cars parked on the street had been nearly buried by the plows.
De Marco's cars were parked in his driveway but he was no better off. His cars were plowed-in because the snow plows left high banks of snow across the entrance. He had been digging at the walls for days. Nearby, gaping holes in the snowbanks indicated the spots where his neighbors dug their cars free. Most spots were marked by chairs and trash cans.
De Marco can't stand the way neighbors marked their parking spots with chairs because it left no place to park. "It causes fights," said De Marco. "It's a Philadelphia thing when you put trash cans out."
He said that even after the snow melts the neighbors will continue to put chairs and trash cans out. "They think they own that spot for the rest of the year," said De Marco.
by Rachel Hooper and Travis Gold, Group 5, Germantown