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Chapel Hill Focuses on Sending Snowplows to Neighborhoods

Jeff McCracken, deputy director for the UNC Department of Public Safety, says campus roads and walkways are almost clear.

Jeff McCracken, deputy director for the UNC Department of Public Safety, said Monday that the conditions of roads and walkways on campus are almost back to normal after last week's storm dumped almost a foot of snow on Chapel Hill.

DPS has been working with UNC Division of Facilities Services to clear the sidewalks, parking decks and parking lots before the start of classes today, while town employees have been clearing most of the roads on campus.

Bill Terry, internal services superintendent with the Chapel Hill Public Works Department, said the major thoroughfares around town are clear and that employees are now focusing their efforts on secondary roads.

"We're trying to turn our attention into the neighborhoods," he said. "So folks who feel like they haven't seen us, they're probably right. We haven't been out there until recently."

Terry said the town's public works department has about 85 people working on removing snow and ice and struggling with the counter effects of freezing nighttime temperatures.

"Our biggest problem is the freeze-thaw cycle because it loosens up in the daytime, and just about the time we think we're getting a hold of it, the sun goes down and it freezes up again," he said. "And snowplows don't do very well on blocks of ice."

As students and employees make their way to classes today, they might run into some icy patches early on, but campus road and walkway conditions should be safe overall, McCracken said.

He added that, to his knowledge, the department had not received any complaints as of Monday about icy conditions from students or parents returning to campus this week.

"Most people understand it's something nature is responsible for and that we're doing our best to try and fix it," he said.

But the ice and snow have put some students in tight spots as they prepare for the start of the semester. Junior Carrie Riesbeck said her Honda Accord became stuck on Airport Road on Friday when she tried to drive into her apartment complex, Mill Creek.

"It didn't look bad, so I just pulled in, and then my tires started spinning," she said. "Finally two cops showed up with a shovel."

Following the snowstorm, some flights were delayed or canceled, but officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport said most flights were not affected. "The airport was very well-prepared. We stayed open the whole time," said Mirinda Kossoff, communications director for RDU.

Junior Aaron Hiller flew in to RDU on Sunday night from his hometown of Houston. He said that although his flight wasn't affected by the delays, the airport was filled with stranded travelers and luggage. "I got in at about 11 (p.m.), and it looked like a refugee camp downstairs," he said.

Senior Toby Osofsky said the snow and ice made moving back into her apartment after a semester abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, inconvenient. But she said she finds other people's reaction to the winter weather amusing at times.

"I'm from the North, so I'm not used to everything shutting down when it snows," she said. "I don't think many people here know what to do when the streets are icy -- I actually saw someone putting table salt down."

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