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Notebook: Plenty of snow, but no shovels

Mon., Jan. 28, 2008

Shovels were in high demand but short supply Sunday in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Many hardware stores ran out and are not likely to get more until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Snow blowers were gone before the shovels. De-icer, snow melt and sand also were running low at many stores.

The South Hill Ace Hardware expected to receive five pallets of snow melt on Friday, but it was diverted to California.

“I don’t know why their snow is any more important than ours,” said Barbara Strem, who worked the customer service counter Sunday.

Home Depot in the Spokane Valley has no snow blowers but a few shovels left.

The General Store in Spokane was taking orders for snow blowers and hoping to have them by Tuesday.

Valley streets have to wait

Snow removal was one of many hot-button issues in the years when Spokane Valley residents debated whether to form their own city. Some incorporation backers complained that suburban streets were a low priority for the county and predicted a city would be more responsive.

But the Spokane Valley City Council in April made the decision to exclude flat residential streets from snow-removal unless “functional traffic flow is substantially inhibited.”

Mayor Rich Munson said Sunday that the threshold is 6 inches, and the streets will be plowed. As in other jurisdictions, that four-day job won’t be done until arterials are cleared.

Before the policy change, city policy had called for deploying plows whenever there was 4 inches of snow. But city officials pointed out in April that it had only happened once since the city formed in 2003.

Just relax and enjoy it

The heavy snow didn’t keep Sue Spafford indoors. She and her daughter, Jessica Levy, put on their snowshoes for a jaunt around Coeur d’Alene.

“People would be very surprised at how you can get around,” Spafford said.

The longtime North Idaho residents said Sunday’s storm was the biggest they’ve seen in years.

Their advice for dealing with the storm? Enjoy it.

“Soon enough it’s going to be 105 degrees,” Levy said.

Shoveling again … and again

Continuously heavy snowfall meant Coeur d’Alene residents who were quick with the shovel had to repeat the task.

Ken Burchell, 20, said he can usually clear his driveway and sidewalk, plus his neighbor’s driveway, in about an hour. But the weekend’s wet, slushy snow was too much for his blower.

So, Burchell said, he spent at least two hours Sunday shoveling snow from his driveway before he could get to his neighbor’s. Less than two hours later, he had 3 new inches to clear.

Terry Smoot, 18, shoveled the walkway to her Young Avenue home three times by 4 p.m.

“I’ve been praying for a foot of snow,” she said. “I think God answered me.”

Storm plays no favorites

Good campaigning skills don’t necessarily translate to good winter-driving skills, as two elected officials learned Sunday. Neither made it as far as a public street.

Mayor Mary Verner got stuck in her Spokane driveway. And Spokane County Commissioner Bonnie Mager got stuck in her driveway south of Cheney.

“I may not be able to get into town tomorrow,” said Mager, who also had to deal with a 12-hour power outage. “I’ve been looking at the sled in my garage. I don’t have any dogs to go along with it.”


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