The City of Lubbock, Texas, is still recovering from a historic blizzard that left massive snow drifts and power outages. The storm dumped the third largest accumulation of snow in the city’s history on the streets and highways. Tropical storm force winds piled massive drifts and created power outages for residents.
“It’s been over 30 years since we had this much snow in Lubbock and hopefully it will be another 30 till we see this much again,” Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson told reporters in a press conference. “I want to thank all of Lubbock’s residents for your patience and cooperation, and I want to thank all of our City staff who have spent their time working to keep you safe and warm.”
Texas cities rarely have to deal with winter storms of this magnitude. This makes it difficult to have the massive numbers of snow plows and removal vehicles one might expect of a northern city.
City officials used 2 graders, 6 loaders, 10 backhoes, 10 salt trucks, 2 snow plows, 2 bobcats and a tractor to combat the snow drifts. The primary goal of the city’s initial response was to keep emergency vehicles and first responders on the move.
“Sunday night as upwards of 60 city vehicles including LP&L service vehicles, fire engines, police vehicles, and EMS ambulances had to be rescued,” Mayor Robertson explained. “Emergency services became prioritized in order to get people to hospitals, keep citizens safe, and to get power back on.”
The Lubbock Police Department (LPD) took 805 calls for service from motorists who were stranded over a three-day period. The mayor declared a state of emergency Sunday night which allowed resources from the State of Texas to be deployed for assistance to the city. The mayor said the state responded with assets from the Army Reserves, Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Transportation.
In addition to the stranded motorist calls, the city has also had to service 374 fire incident calls, 539 EMS calls and over 800 calls for service to the LPD. “These do not count the numerous other incidents that were not called in,” the mayor said.
On Wednesday, the city finally saw temperatures reaching above the freezing mark. This will help clear the streets as snow begins to melt.
“The City currently has two snow plows and a third one ordered,” Robertson told reporters. “Snow plows are expensive. The last one we purchased cost $250,000.”
“We’ve only ever had two bigger snowfalls in Lubbock’s history,” he continued. “It is not cost effective for the City to maintain a fleet of snow plows that are only used once every couple of decades.”
The mayor reminded reporters of the Texas spirit of self-reliance and independence. “There are too many people to mention, and honestly, I don’t know of everyone who helped out, but whether you helped pull a stranger’s car out of snow bank, or drove a nurse to work, THANK YOU,” Robertson said gratefully. “You may never know the real benefit of your work. I encourage everyone to help out each other in the coming hours and days. Help shovel a driveway or sidewalk for your neighbors. Check on an elderly or disabled neighbor or friend. We as a City have a limited number of resources, and we thank you for pulling together and helping each other.”
One resident commented on the city’s response on Facebook. “I appreciate your communication with us,” said Kathy Mahaffey Dawson. “Most of us don’t understand the magnitude of problems this snow event can cause but your communication has been very helpful. Thank you to all those who have been out in this frigid weather, whether paid employees or not, while most of us were warm and dry. I love Lubbock!”
Trey Strange wrote, “Thanks for your hard work!! Too many ignorant citizens did not listen to the Mayor’s request NOT to drive on the streets until they were safe!!! I’m sure dealing with these mental midgets delayed these efforts as well as emergency vehicles responding to calls.”
Tammy Lindsey seemed to tap into that Texas spirit of self-reliance the mayor spoke of. “I am stuck as well. Not because the city won’t clear the streets, but because there is too much snow on my car and behind my car,” she explained. “I live in an apartment community. So is it their responsibility to clear out the snow around my car just so I can get out? I took my happy ass out with the things I had to start digging out my car.”
“People just need to be patient and let things happen as they happen and stop complaining about it, Lindsey concluded. “The city and TXDOT did what they thought would work and it’s obvious that it didn’t but it’s not the city’s fault.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.