We are long time veterans of snow. I went to college in New England and lived in Canada for seventeen years. We also lived in Maryland for a couple of years before moving to the foothills of Twelve O'Clock Knob Mountain over twenty years ago.
Being a native of Mt. Airy, North Carolina I also saw a few snowstorms there while I was growing up. So we have seen just about every kind of snow removal you could imagine from shovel to giant snow blower.
For ten years while living in Canada, we had a farm in the snow belt north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Our first year there we got over twenty three feet of snow. That year and some of the others, it was not unusual to find five or six feet of snow in the fields during the winter. I kept a road cleared to my 60 cows which wintered in the bush. It was one mile long. I had a tractor with a seven foot wide snow blower mounted on the back. I could cut through drifts up to three feet deep in one pass. With a big tractor, the snow could easily be blown 100 to 150 feet.
When I was not cleaning the road to my cattle, I cleaned the driveways of neighbors. I never charged anyone for cleaning their driveway. If I had tried to cover costs even on an hourly basis, the neighbors would have thought that I was taking them to the cleaners. It was easier to do it for free.
I have cleaned snow with front end loaders, a bulldozer, skid steer loaders and blades of all sorts. I know about clearing snow, and here I am sitting on top of a hill with an un-plowed road. Even driving in reverse with a rear mounted snow blower on a farm tractor, I could clear our Roanoke area subdivision roads easily.
I never had to worry about the road in front of my house while living twenty miles north of civilization in Canada, it was plowed regularly and frequently.
Now Virginia is not Canada, but I can tell you from experience that the mountains around Roanoke, Virginia do get snow. In fact they sometimes get a lot of snow. I have also learned from twenty years here that getting snow removal in Virginia is sometimes like pulling teeth.
This most recent snow started on Friday at 2:20 PM. While leaving the Kroger on Keagy, we met two VDOT plows loaded for bear. The snow on our hill stopped sometime Saturday morning. We ended up with 20 inches of snow. Roughly it has been thirty-six hours since the snow stopped. We have not seen any sign of a snow plow.
The state of Virginia is very happy to accept our tax dollars. I am not quite sure how snow plowing is funded, but I do know that the City of Salem manages to get its streets clean very quickly. In fact they even cleared a stadium and managed to hold a national football championship this past Saturday.
On the other hand VDOT and/or Roanoke County cannot seem to find our hill. It is a little frustrating.
I expect the state to do the main roads first, but I know Interstate 81 and Route 419 are bare and dry. They have been that way for a while.
Perhaps folks think being low tax and low service is the route to success. Since I have another home in North Carolina, I can tell you that when you add Virginia property taxes like Roanoke County's to the equation, you are actually living in a high tax state.
A high tax and low service area is not a recipe for keeping happy residents. Interstate 81 is an embarrassment. Waiting a day and one half to have your street plowed is a joke especially when you are in neighborhood only 2.3 miles from Route 419 and Lewis Gale Hospital.
The only good things are that storms like this do not happen often, and I have another place that I can hang my hat.
Maybe we should borrow some ideas from the Canadians. They let their government snow plows focus on the main roads, and they hire independent contractors to do the subdivisions.
Certainly the experience could not be any worse than what we are now seeing. I wonder how long we will wait for the snow plow. While this storm is the biggest in a decade, maybe VDOT is trying to make this the longest wait ever.
Update- It is the morning of Dec. 21, and I found this nice press release issued yesterday. It says all neighborhoods will be cleared by midnight yesterday. Well it is over eight hours past midnight, and we still have not seen a snow plow. My wife did call VDOT, and a nice lady told her we had been missed, and she would notify the plow. Since they are finished with everyone else, it should not take too long.
We will see.