[Chris Watson is Blue Water Baltimore’s Construction Manager, managing the implementation of projects involving greening and stormwater mitigation as well as overseeing training of his crewmembers for workforce development.]
I hope that you have weathered the recent winter storm in good health. It certainly has been a busy week for our team as Blue Water Baltimore has been working throughout Baltimore helping neighbors, partners, and some of our Deep Blue communities recover from the storm.
We have been supporting our partners and neighbors through the storm, and I thought you might be interested in what we’ve been doing.
Aaron Laliberte, foreman of our Environmental Construction Team, began staging our equipment on Friday afternoon in anticipation of the storm’s approach. With the benefit of more than thirty years of combined snow removal experience across the country (including Alaska) Aaron and I staged our equipment at strategic locations so we could deploy it as soon as practicable.
We spent Saturday and most of Sunday monitoring the storm and communicating with our partners, city officials, and former colleagues in various local emergency responses agencies, as well as buying shovels and materials needed to augment our capabilities. On Sunday evening we drove through Baltimore to scout our staging areas and neighborhoods where Blue Water Baltimore operates to plan for Monday morning.
By 5:30 am on Monday we were planning for the day: digging out equipment, stocking up on fuel, and carpooling to pick up Blue Water Baltimore staff.
We began by clearing the snow from around our office area so we’d have a place to coordinate our operations throughout our recovery efforts.
We opened up 75% of Pelham Ave for our neighbors and helped clear snow for some of our nearby Belair-Edison neighbors before moving to the Oliver neighborhood.
Both Belair-Edison and Oliver are Deep Blue communities with a history of partnership with Blue Water Baltimore. Our mission is to improve both the health of our watersheds and the quality of life in the communities we serve.
On Monday we helped provide a clear path for Oliver residents, including a person scheduled for surgery this week, as well as the Code Blue center in Oliver. Tuesday was spent in Belair-Edison where the Blue Water Baltimore team plowed a church parking lot that offered safe parking for residents, several streets and alleys for elderly residents, and hauled literally tons of snow away from intersections to improve visibility for drivers and pedestrians.
We happily provided meals to several elderly residents and children who were out of school and likely not able to access school meals. This work continued in the Belair-Edison community through today.
I estimate that we invested more than two hundred man-hours in the past seven days planning, staging, coordinating, and conducting snow removal operations to assist our neighbors, partners, and our Deep Blue communities. The people that we directly helped in the two communities numbered in the hundreds. We are thrilled that the equipment we normally use to remove pavement, install rain gardens and plant street trees could be used in this snow emergency in a helpful way. Despite the expense and wear-and-tear on our equipment, we feel blessed that we increased public safety, assisted elderly and ill residents, and allowed community organizations, Code Blue centers, and churches to more effectively assist the communities they serve.