Weather Inspires Mixed Emotions

Weather Inspires Mixed Emotions

Snow and ice blanket the area, frustrating commuters but bringing a welcome break to some.

Laurie Mazelsky and her husband have lived on Polo Club Court in Great Falls for five years, and every time it snows, they wait anxiously, fervently hoping that the snow plow trucks will make it to their street. After last week's storm left a treacherous coating of ice and snow over all of Fairfax County, the Mazelsky's watched and waited — but no plow came.

"On Thursday afternoon, my husband finally got in touch with someone at VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation], who said that she put our street on 'the list in the computer,'" said Mazelsky. "She said it goes to the dispatch, and that was it. She didn't exactly leave my husband with a great deal of confidence."

On Friday morning, Feb. 16, a snow plow finally made its way down Polo Club Court — but by that point, any attempt to plow effectively was nothing more than an exercise in futility.

"By 6 a.m., on the third day after the storm, nothing was going to move the ice and snow — it was all frozen to the street," said Mazelsky. "Their attempt at clearing the road was a total waste of time."

Mazelsky is fortunate in that she owns a car with four-wheel drive, however, her husband and most of her neighbors do not.

"My husband didn't drive his car into work until Friday," she said. "It's very frustrating. They knew this storm was coming — I don't understand why the side streets weren't cleared better."

Mazelsky understands her place in the chain of priority, and is well aware that the county's main roads must be plowed before its residential streets. Nonetheless, she cannot help but be astounded by the poor level — and sometimes absolute lack of — service given to her neighborhood.

"Our street sometimes never gets plowed," she said. "I just don't understand how and why this happens each time it snows. Are we not living in Fairfax County? Is it not one of the wealthiest counties in Virginia, let alone the United States of America? What happens to all of my tax dollars? Isn't snow removal part of the services that paid for through my taxes?"

Representatives from VDOT did not return calls to The Connection at press time.

OTHER RESIDENTS were also frustrated by unsatisfactory snow removal services last week. Great Falls resident Andrew Creighton did not see a snow plow in his neighborhood until several days after the storm. When one finally showed up, it did nothing to ameliorate his snowed-in status. Early Friday morning, Feb. 16, Creighton awoke to see a snow plow in his cul-de-sac with its blade up. He then watched in disappointment as it skimmed quickly over his street, providing a clearing that was sub-par at best.

"The plow turned around in the cul-de-sac, dropped a little sand, paused at the exit to the cul-de-sac, put its blade down just enough to level the snow and ice, and then charged away," said Creighton. "Still not a chance of getting our rear-wheel-drive car out."

Like Laurie Mazelskym, Great Falls resident S. Nash wants to know why his taxpayer dollars are not buying an efficient winter weather services.

"When will this area admit they actually do get snow and ice, as do many other areas?" asked Nash. "Will it ever be obvious where my substantial taxes are being spent?"

Nash says he is continually astounded by Virginia's inept reactions to winter storms.

"By all means, the plows need to get out early and do it right the first time, and simultaneously learn the proper use of salt and sand," said Nash. "I am embarrassed for Virginians as not too long ago, I witnessed plows sitting by the road, literally waiting for the first snow flake. I was told by a New Englander that a long running ad once spoofed us in one of their ads, doing the exact same thing."

Nash said he wonders how long Fairfax County will continue to remain passive, allowing winter storms to cause total shutdown of the area.

"We pride ourselves on being so intelligent, yet I would like to see it," said Nash.

NOT ALL RESIDENTS were unhappy with their plowing services — some actually embraced the delays.

"Our family loved the fact that our street was not plowed until late Wednesday evening, so my husband's office just had to get along without him for one day," said Great Falls resident Barbara Morehouse. "That it happened to be Valentine's Day made it that much more special."

Great Falls resident Janet Jameson also enjoyed bonding with her family during last week's frosty conditions. Jameson reveled in the joy of watching her daughter Laura spend her 15th birthday sledding with her 12-year-old brother Luke.

"This was a special day for them being out of school and together," said Jameson. "Laura had been unable to play for a long time due to illness. They would glide down the hill, and her brother would pull her back up the hill."

Subsequently, as far as Jameson was concerned, the snow and ice were "wonderful."

"We were able to just be a family together," she said.

Great Falls resident Cindy Gersony said that once she recovered from the initial shock of the cancellation of school for the fourth day in a row, she relished playing in the snow with her three 6-year-olds, Greg, Lizzy and Laura — all of whom are afternoon kindergarten students at Great Falls Elementary School.

"We ended up having a wonderful time," said Gersony. "We've luckily had no power problems, but it looks like it will be a couple more days before my car will get un-stuck from its spot by our mailbox."

Nicole Alexander also used the snow to savor precious quality time with her family — time that was made particularly gratifying by the fact that Alexander had just given birth to her third son Nathan. Mother and son returned home from the hospital on Monday, Feb. 12, just in time to get snowed in with the rest of the family.

"The snow was actually great for us because we got to stay home and cuddle up with the new addition," said Alexander. "The two big boys played outside with daddy, while mommy and the new little man looked on from inside."

Parents of older children were not quite so carefree. The winter weather caused Great Falls resident Mary Burnette extra angst when her teenage son and his friends decided to go out.

"We worry about them driving when the weather is fine, if they have to be out when the roads are icy, we're on pins and needles," said Burnette.

Some residents enjoyed the snow in their own personal way. When the snow started on Tuesday, Feb. 13, local photographer Walt Lawrence headed into Great Falls National Park to take advantage of the scenic winter photo opportunities.

"On Tuesday morning I think I had the entire park to myself, and it was truly spectacular," said Lawrence. "The contrast between the dark colors of the rocks and trees against the white of the snow and ice gave me the feeling of walking through an etching."