Tri-Lakers dig out

Beam me up, Scotty – to spring.

That’s what some Tri-Lakes area residents were saying today after Winter Storm Vulcan dropped up to 20 inches of snow across the region in the last 24 hours, closing or delaying some schools and causing a handful of car crashes.

“I hate it, hate it,” Lake Placid Fire Driver Greg Hayes said after taking a break from snow blowing outside the Lake Placid firehouse. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who agree.”

Hayes estimated the storm dropped 18 to 20 inches of snow on Lake Placid. Roughly a foot fell in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

Tom Hough of Bloomingdale said he hasn’t seen a storm in March quite this bad since 1993.

“It’s brutal out there,” Hough said.

After dismissing students early Wednesday, Saranac Lake and Keene schools were closed today. Lake Placid and Tupper Lake students went home early Wednesday and had a two-hour delay to the start of classes this morning. All three campuses of North Country Community College closed early Wednesday and are closed again today. Paul Smith’s College has classes as usual today.

Despite all the snow, state and local police, and the area’s fire departments, reported just a handful of property damage accidents or cars off the road.

“It’s been pretty uneventful thus far,” a spokesman for Tupper Lake-based state police said this morning. “No major crashes. Everybody’s doing their best to clear all the snow up, but it’s still going to be a messy commute for some people today.”

Saranac Lake Police Chief Bruce Nason said his department had just one storm-related accident, a property-damage-only crash Wednesday on Woodruff Street. He encouraged people to stay inside and off the roads, if they can.

“The roads are still snow covered, and with the wind it’s creating some snowdrifts,” Nason said. “If you are going to be out, use caution and allow more time for travel.”

Some people braved the storm. Betsy Corris was making at pit stop at Stewart’s in Saranac Lake on her way to Tupper Lake this morning.

“The roads are pretty good,” Corris said. “I guess I’ll find out how they are on my way to Tupper (Lake).”

Corris said she wanted to thank Scott, a Saranac Lake village employee who helped get her car out of the snow Wednesday night after she was done working.

“He used the sidewalk plow in front (of my car),” Corris said. “He got me out of there.”

Local highway departments worked around the clock to keep the streets and sidewalks clear.

“I’m tired,” Saranac Lake Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Dora said this morning when asked how his crews are holding up. “It seems like every time you’d go by, get a street cleaned up, you’d go by two hours later and it’s back to the way it was.”

Dora said his department has used every piece of snow-removal equipment in its arsenal. He said he split his crews up to provide continuous 24-hour coverage.

“We’re going to keep going until the streets are clean,” he said. “We’re also trying to get the churches and downtown picked up. We’re working as fast as we can.”

Dora reminded people that it’s illegal to plow or blow snow into the street.

Paul Herrmann of Saranac Lake said the village did a good job plowing the streets.

“They were out last night,” Herrmann said, “but we were still pretty much snowed in this morning. I think this is winter’s last gasp.”

In Lake Placid, town of North Elba Highway Superintendent Larry Straight reported no problems with keeping up with what he estimated was about a foot-and-a-half of snow.

“We came out during the early evening (Wednesday) and went around, then came in early this morning and plowed again,” he said. “Now we’re just cleaning up.”

The North Country hasn’t seen a lot of big snowstorms this winter, but it has been consistently cold, which has made for a long season for highway departments and public works crews.

“It’s been a long winter,” Straight said. “This is the first real snowstorm we’ve had, but it’s something we’ve had to deal with every day. The cold, trying to keep equipment running. We’re ready for spring.”

While 20 inches of snow may not be what some people wanted to see, others were excited about it.

“The skiers and the snowmobilers are going to love this,” Nason said.

Asked if he’s one of those people, Nason said no.

“I’m not out there enjoying it,” he said. “The most I’ve been doing is shoveling it.”