December 25, 2008 in Voices

Snow inspires neighborly acts

South Hill residents pitch in to dig out
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Photos by PIA HALLENBERG CHRISTENSEN photo

Jason Nowaski was helping drivers free their vehicles from the snow Friday in the South Perry Street area.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Fishtailing and shoveling was the order of the day as the South Hill dug out from two feet of snow Friday. As the snow stopped and the sun peeked through the pines, people stuck their heads out backdoors and assessed the mounds of snow.

The hum of snowblowers could be heard across neighborhoods, almost as loudly as the squeals of sledding kids whose Christmas break started early because of the storm.

Many adults had the day off, too – some simply because their cars had been transformed to igloo-shaped heaps of snow overnight, others because businesses and schools closed.

On East 19th Avenue, just off Grand Boulevard, Deven Johnson and Jim Tuck were hamming it up as they cleared not just the sidewalks but the road.

“You can tell the mayor,” Johnson said, pointing a glove-covered finger, “that I now know what ‘code red’ means. It means no plowing in residential areas.”

Johnson and Tuck exhausted a snowblower trying to get their own and neighbors’ cars out.

“I guess we wore it out,” Johnson said, laughing. “It took three trips to Home Depot to get the right belt and all that – but between the blower and people here on the street we’ve kept it pretty clear.”

Tuck, who works at St. George’s School, said his commute home had been his biggest snow-related challenge.

“I was stuck on the Maple Street Bridge for an hour,” he said. “It took me 2 ½ hours to get home, but I think most people were quite nice.”

On South Perry Street, near 14th Avenue, Jason Nowaski and his Jeep Wrangler pulled people out from the side streets.

Traffic was picking up Friday afternoon, making it tricky to for motorists to pass the berms that had piled up along arterials. Many drivers got stuck just a nose from the more-navigable Perry.

Sporting a smile and short sleeves, Nowaski said he had pulled out four cars Thursday and three – so far – on Friday.

“I guess I just drive around looking for people to help,” Nowaski said, as his latest rescue disappeared in traffic down Perry. “I live in the Valley. I am really here to take my girlfriend out for lunch.” It was 2 p.m. by then and he figured he better get on to the girlfriend before helping anyone else.

“I do kinda love it,” Nowaski said. “I like being snowbound.”

Others were less excited.

Erik and Amber Fuhrman had been snowed in at relatives’ house for two days; they’d just made it home to their Manito neighborhood Friday afternoon.

“We love them, and it was good we could stay, but between all of us there were a lot of kids running around,” said Erik Fuhrman, who was digging out his neighbor’s car.

Fuhrman was returning a favor. “When we got home, they pulled us the last little bit into the driveway,” he said. “I decided to dig out their car to pay it forward.”

Between all the shoveling, digging and trying to get to work, kids on sleds hit the slopes at Manito Park. Outside Rockwood Bakery on 18th Avenue, snowshoes and cross-country skis hinted at how people got there for coffee.

Others, like Mia and Sid Phelps, took a long walk.

About 1 p.m. they were waiting for one of the first STA buses to make it down Grand Boulevard, toward downtown.

“We walked through Manito Park from Bernard,” Mia Phelps said. “It was very pretty, and it really wasn’t too bad to walk in, except the last part.”

She had to go to work at Drop Your Drawers, a secondhand shop on East Sprague Avenue.

“I didn’t have to work on Thursday. They were very nice about it, so it’s cool that I have to come in today,” Mia Phelps said. “I’m going to take the bus out Sprague.”

Sid Phelps had been pushing cars Thursday and Friday.

“Most people are helpful, but there was one person who yelled at me to get out of the road when I was helping someone,” Sid Phelps said. “The next day, that same person was stuck down the street and I just walked by. There’s some karma there.”

Most people took the big snow in stride, chatting over fences and helping one another out.

Tuck said it best, while scraping the last bit of ice from his windshield: “No matter how you feel about the snow, it does bring the community together. We just try to help out where we can.”

Reach Pia Hallenberg Christensen at 459-5427 or piah@spokesman.com


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