Among the drivers taking the wheel of Augusta city plow trucks in the blizzard that dumped about a foot of snow on city streets Thursday were two computer guys and an animal control officer.

By day, Corey Beaulieu and Michael Schriver help keep the city’s fleet of computers running smoothly, working for the city’s information technology department. François Roodman’s “day job,” meanwhile, is as animal control officer for the Augusta police.

But this winter, when the snow flies, the three city employees head to the public works garage, and they’re not there to tune up the computers in the office or trap a wayward raccoon. They come to plow snow, as occasional drivers called in to give the city’s full-time drivers some relief from the sometimes around-the-clock need to plow snow.

Adding the city employees as relief drivers is one step of several city officials are taking this year to try to improve the plowing of city streets, after a rough last winter that generated complaints about inadequate plowing, and while dealing with a statewide shortage of plow truck drivers.

“That gave us five extra drivers, plus some of the rubbish loaders helped plow, in pickup trucks,” said Lesley Jones, Augusta’s public works director. “It was blizzard conditions. … We definitely needed all the drivers we could get.”

Central Mainers were digging out from a foot or more of snow Friday morning — a lot more where there were snowdrifts — after a powerful nor’easter a day earlier swept across the state with blizzard-force wind.

The storm dumped 15.3 inches of snow in Mount Vernon, 13 inches in Athens and Randolph, 11.9 inches in Farmington and 9.5 inches in Wiscasset, according to observations from the National Weather Service.

Mal Walker, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Caribou, said Thursday’s storm was one of the most powerful to hit the East Coast in recent memory.

Even as the storm cleanup began, people braced for the temperature plummeting below zero by the evening.

In the storm’s wake comes “some of the coldest air of the season,” according to Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. Wind chill was expected to drop double-digits by Friday afternoon, with a temperature just above zero by the early evening, and it was expected to plunge well below zero Saturday.

Friday, local public works crews worked to remove as much of the snow and ice from roads as they could, because extreme cold will only make getting rid of it that much harder.

“We did our best to get everything clear of snow and sanded before the cold comes in,” Jones said. “The salt doesn’t work very well below 14 degrees, so we’re trying to get the roads as passable as can be for the weekend.”

In nearby Fairfield, all eight members of the public works crew were out throughout the night taking care of the snow. Foreman Glen Clark said there are still some workers taking care of snowdrifts, and that will continue as long as the wind gusts do.

“We made out fine,” Clark said, adding there were no machine problems during the storm, and relatively little traffic.

Likewise in Skowhegan, Road Commissioner Gregory Dore said there were no breakdowns and plowing went smoothly, other than the amount of snow they still had to move.

“It was difficult at times to see the road,” Dore said, “but the guys stuck it out and we’re in pretty good shape.”

In Winslow, the town’s public works director, Paul Fongemie, said the crew experienced no major problems. “It was a fairly quiet blizzard, as far as blizzards go,” he said.

The 10-man team started working at 7 a.m. Thursday, clearing the streets and sidewalks, and was still on the clock Friday afternoon, dropping salt to break down snow clumps.

With subzero temperature looming, plow truck drivers worked to try to get rid of as much of the roughly 1 foot of snow that the blizzard had dumped on local streets before the plunge into colder weather makes snow and ice that much harder to remove.

Tony LaPlante, director of public works in Gardiner, said city drivers were trying to get main arteries in the city down to bare pavement, ahead of the return of frigid temperature.

“We’re in good shape now, that was a pretty good nor’easter, there was pretty heavy snow yesterday afternoon,” LaPlante said Friday. “Today we’re dealing with drifting, and there are big snowbanks, so we’ve got to be aware of those.”

LaPlante said a couple of Gardiner plow trucks broke down during the storm, but the department’s on-site mechanic had the trucks back running, and out plowing, within a couple of hours.

Not everyone working with the freshly fallen snow Friday was looking to get rid of it.

Bill Rogers, a local doctor who is president of Augusta Trails, a group that helps maintain trails at the Bond Brook Recreation Area, and volunteer David Simard were out grooming ski trails Friday, packing down the snow for cross-country skiers.

“We should get it groomed out by this evening,” Rogers said Friday. “The killer with this storm was the drifts, but I think Dave Simard broke through most of those. So we should be in good shape.”

Bond Brook Recreation Area in Augusta, access to which is free, has ski trails groomed for both skate skiing and classic stride skiing. People also can snowshoe in the recreational area, though they are asked to stick to the single-track mountain bike trails, not the groomed ski trails, so they don’t mess up the groomed trails.

Rogers said the cold weather shouldn’t affect their ability to ready the trails, as long as the engines of the snowmobile and trailer groomer start.

While the state and many businesses were closed during Thursday’s blizzard, some workers don’t get snow days because the demand for their services remains, regardless of the weather.

Such is the case for ambulance crew members.

Bill McKenna, director of community relations for Delta Ambulance, which serves several area communities from bases in Augusta and Waterville, said the company had a full staff and brought in an extra ambulance for the big storm. He said a dispatcher working during the storm said the day was fairly quiet, with only a few calls, and two long-distance transfers, to Boston and Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Jones said Augusta’s sidewalk plows were out Friday and would be out over the weekend trying to clear snow from sidewalks, but she hoped most workers would have some time to rest over the weekend.

A pile of sand dropped outside the public works’ gates on North Street is available for Augusta residents, who are allowed to take up to two 5-gallon buckets of sand to use on their driveways and walkways.

LaPlante said Gardiner’s snow removal crews would work Friday night to clear snow from the downtown area.

“It’s another night of work for the crew,” LaPlante said, “but we know what we’re in for. It’s winter.”

Staff writers Colin Ellis and Emily Higginbotham contributed reporting.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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