BRIGANTINE - Equipment breakdowns and staffing shortfalls have stalled the city's snow clean-up efforts, which appear to be lagging far behind that of other area towns.
The city's main arteries remained covered in snow and ice Tuesday, a full day after the snow from a coastal storm had stopped falling. Snowfall amounts were near two feet in some area towns; 20 inches were recorded in Brigantine, Atlantic City and Pleasantville.
City Manager Jim Barber said two snow plows broke during the Sunday-Monday storm. Brigantine has also been financially unable to fill some empty public works positions - leaving the city undermanned to fight the snow.
"We have budgetary problems, but everybody's hurting," Barber said. "We're doing the best we can."
Mayor Phil Guenther said 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts have made cleanup difficult.
http://pressofac.mycapture.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=33370810&event=1142232&CategoryID=57516"> Click here for a photo gallery of Brigantine streets
"It was the type of storm where once something was plowed, the snow was immediately back in place," Guenther said.
Clean-up should take a few more days, city officials say. For now, city employees are working round-the-clock, widening side streets and dumping snow in barren beach-front parking lots.
"Before we were clearing streets," Barber said. "Now we're removing the snow."
The shoddy road conditions inconvienced Brigantine residents such as Carl Apter, who lives on 31st Street. Apter cleared his neighbors' driveways using his snowblower. But after the snow stopped, he was stuck at home - his truck was buried.
"I couldn't get out," he said. "They plowed us in."
Additionally, when the plow trucks did come down Ocean Avenue, they only made road conditions worse, Apter said.
Some residents avoided the city's main roads - partly because they had nowhere to go, and partly because they couldn't get out. Sandy Barychewsky and some visiting friends spent Tuesday morning digging out her car on Ocean Avenue.
"I thought (road crews) were doing as much as they could," Barychewsky said.
Jim Hannan of Brigantine spent Tuesday morning along Brigantine Avenue, running errands with his son.
"I think the city is doing a wonderful job," Hannan said. "But there is a heck of a lot of snow out here."
City officials say drivers should proceed with caution and remain patient. Things are going to get better.
In the meantime, Guenther said Brigantine's employees, including police and fire personnel, are helping out any way they can.
Employees are performing services for residents with special medical needs - picking up prescriptions or clearing paths for ambulance drivers.
"Neighbors helping neighbors - that's the type of community Brigantine is," Guenther said. "It has to be a documented emergency, however, not going to CVS for someone who needs Advil."
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