Six neighbors took to the Foggy Bottom streets two weeks ago to clear sidewalks after D.C.’s first snow of the season coated the area with about two inches of snow.
It was the first time the Foggy Bottom Snow Team cleared snow and ice from sidewalks that would otherwise have gone uncleared, and D.C. is expected to get another few inches this week.
GW’s Office of Community Relations and the Foggy Bottom Association created the group, which now has more than a dozen volunteers, to combat icy conditions affecting anyone on the street, especially the elderly and disabled.
D.C. passed a measure in November requiring residents to shovel the sidewalks in front of their property within eight hours of the end of a snowstorm – or they may be slapped with a $25 fine. It’s also the first year GW students living off campus will face fines for not keeping their walkways clear.
The snow team was organized so Foggy Bottom residents, including students, who aren’t able to clear their walkways can call in for help, said Britany Waddell, GW’s director of community relations. She added that volunteers will share shovels and rock salt to clear the neighborhood sidewalks.
Ken Durham, who helped bring the team together, said he hopes the group will make the sidewalks safer for everyone, not just those who are unable to shovel the sidewalks on their own.
“There are places that are owned by nobody and don’t get shoveled,” Durham said. “It helps anybody just walking to Trader Joe’s or CVS.”
During a snowstorm, Durham said volunteers will be called to duty, and if they are free, will shovel snow in the area to which they are assigned.
“We try to have them do things near where they are located,” he added.
Durham said the first snow of the season wasn’t strenuous for the group, but he hopes the team will be prepared for future snowfall that may be more severe.
Last year’s winter was one of the coldest in decades for D.C., and the extreme temperatures and unusually high snowfall caused homeless shelters to reach capacity.
Durham said the bulk of the team consisted of women over the age of 60, and that the group would like to have at least 25 volunteers on their calling list.
“You’ll probably end up with less than half that are available the day you need them,” Durham said.
Because of the unexpected amount of snow last spring semester and the resulting snow days, the University canceled reading days before finals.
Peter Sacco, a GW senior who is the only student on the team so far, said students living off campus could benefit from the team’s efforts as well. He added that the group wants students to volunteer, even if they live on campus.
“GW, unfortunately, is not able to shovel all the sidewalks in the city,” Sacco said.