LEWISTON — The snow was so deep Monday that it pushed Jeff Ricker’s plow truck to the other side of the road, he said during a ride-along with a reporter.

While many families in Maine were waking up to open Christmas presents Monday, Lewiston Public Works crews were out clearing more than a foot of snow from the roads.

The snow was so deep that Ricker had to go down some roads three or four times, he said.

By 2 p.m. he could see the sun coming out and the snow starting to slow down. “That’s good. I always like to see that,” he said.

Ricker has been with Public Works for 22 years, plowing and treating the roads during the winter and sweeping and repairing equipment during the warmer months.

Ricker worked from 8:30 a.m. Monday until his shift was up, plowing and treating his run, which includes residential roads off Main Street up to the Greene town line.

Ricker said he lives out of town, “so I come back in after eight hours clocked out, not eight hours being home, then come back in on probably four hours of sleep.”

He said that during most storms he’s out for the whole 16 hours, “especially a storm that lingers.”

The department has two teams: the A Team and the B Team, and each can work up to 16 hours at a time.

Ricker said it was snowing so hard Monday morning that his wipers were built up and he could hardly see.

Public Works Director Dave Jones asked people to stay off the roads during the afternoon, when there were “whiteout” conditions.

“I’m going 5 mph this morning because I can’t see what’s going on, and the guy behind me had his hands out the window yelling at me,” Ricker said. “If I can’t see, I want to be taking my time. I couldn’t even see if someone was walking on the side of the road. Some people don’t even use their headlights, so I flick my lights at them, but they still don’t get it.”

Ricker said he’s constantly looking out of all the truck’s mirrors and rearview camera to make sure no one is sneaking around him.

According to WGME meteorologist Adam Esptein, the Christmas snowstorm dropped 12½ inches in Lewiston and 14½ in Auburn. Norway got 8.3 inches.

National Weather Service staff in Cumberland County measured a 3.7-inch-per-hour snowfall rate just after 10:30 a.m. Monday. Southern areas also were hit hard, with 13 inches in New Gloucester, 11 in Gray and 5½ in Portland.

“We got a lot snow, but I’d still rather have this kind of snow because it’s a fast-moving storm,” Ricker said, “because when I’m done with my run, I’m done. But when you have slow ones with only a couple inches I have to go back and rescrape it and rescrape it.”

Because Ricker’s run is mostly residential, he doesn’t see as many of the accidents that happen on the main roads.

He said those have more things happen because people want to pass or get right on another driver’s bumper.

The plow trucks often have to back up to make turns, but Ricker said other drivers don’t usually give them time to do that.

“Some people are really nice and they’ll ask if I want coffee or food. It’s nice. It feels like some people really appreciate what you’re doing,” Ricker said.

He said one time a woman chased down his truck to give him a chocolate cake she had made.

Lewiston Public Works is responsible for plowing about 400 lane miles of street and 53 miles of sidewalk, Highway Operations Manager John Elie said.

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