University shovels out

GW resumed classes Wednesday as University officials continued to clear snow and bring back student services after D.C.’s largest snowstorm since 1996. Several universities around the District, including Georgetown and American, also re-opened, but all D.C. public schools remained closed.

GW’s facilities operations crews will shovel and plow snow for the next two or three days, but the total financial cost of the clean up has yet to be determined, said Warner Alston, assistant director for Facilities Operations.

Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz said GW budgets for “contingencies” such as snow emergencies but declined to disclose the amount of money the University sets aside.

Teams of workers salted the ground and shoveled when the precipitation started falling Saturday night and began using plows and snow blowers when they saw accumulation.

Alston said the city is in charge of clearing streets, but in extreme cases University crews “cut past” the snow to the other side of the street so students could pass. About half of the operations staff traveled to campus, working around the clock with overtime pay to shovel snow and clear sidewalks.

“(Right now) we’re trying to make sure all our handicapped areas, parking areas, medical areas and parking garages are clear,” Alston said. “The little islands of snow – (we’re) trying to clear up as much of that as possible.”

He said the crews are also working on the back steps of buildings including Lisner Auditorium and Stuart Hall.

As of Wednesday, more than 85 percent of the city’s major roads had been plowed, according to the mayor’s office. Some students who were out of town for the long weekend said they had trouble getting back to campus until the beginning of the week.

“I was coming back from Michigan and we got stuck in the snow,” said junior Neesha Tandon, whose trip was prolonged by four hours because of snow. “There were five of us in the car, just listening to the radio, singing along. We were bored out of our minds.”

“I was in New Jersey for the weekend,” freshman Kim McAuley said. “I went to the train (to come back to D.C.) Sunday and it ended up being five hours late. I didn’t get back here until (Tuesday).”

Other students were unable to leave the Mount Vernon Campus because of shuttle delays. Mount Vernon residents said shuttles were not running Monday and were delayed for up to 40 minutes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sophomore Brian Juengst said he was stranded from Sunday to Tuesday afternoon while visiting a friend.

“(My friend) has a double and her roommate wasn’t there, so I slept in her bed,” Juengst said.

Though students who stayed on campus for the weekend had trouble finding food Sunday and Monday, four J Street managers stayed overnight Monday to ensure students would have more options Tuesday.

Director of Dining Operations Joe Pasterkiewicz said 10 extra employees worked Monday at Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and the Home Zone. Other venues opened for limited hours Tuesday.

Provisions was also open for regular hours starting Tuesday and has received several deliveries since Monday, Pasterkiewicz said. Normal hours were restored for every dining venue by Wednesday.

Pasterkiewicz said he received several complaints from parents over the weekend who were concerned their children wouldn’t have enough to eat.

“A parent called up complaining her son didn’t have any food to eat, so I told her I would bring him a box of food myself,” he joked.

But Rodney Johnson, special assistant to the vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said the University received fewer phone calls this weekend from parents concerned about their children than for other situations GW has confronted, including the September 11 attacks and sniper shootings.

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