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Scranton mayor, DPW head in 1993 recall blizzard battle

Stormtracker 16 meteorologist Ally Gallo sat down with Scranton's mayor and the head of DPW at the time to talk about the March Blizzard of 1993.

SCRANTON, Pa. — If you are old enough to remember, you probably have at least one story to tell about the March Blizzard of 1993, still considered the storm of the century 30 years later. And if you were working during it like these two, you probably have several.

Sam Tomaino was the general superintendent of Scranton's Department of Public Works in 1993. He was later promoted to director, something former Scranton Mayor Jimmy Connors says has a lot to do with how he handled the blizzard of '93.

Now, 30 years later, Tomaino remembers so much about that historic storm — from all his coworkers' names to the moment the Scranton st. Patrick's Parade was canceled. But the thing he remembers most is just how much snow there was and the fact that they had nowhere to put it.

"In the time of a crisis, we all work together. It wasn't the chief of police; it wasn't the fire chief. It was, 'Guys, let's get it done so we can do this.'"

And so, for days and days after the storm, the entire city worked together. Tomaino says they would take the snow, push it into intersections, and haul it away to other places like the big empty field that is now Scranton High School.

"The people of Scranton were so patient because they knew how serious it was. They knew how hard it was. But the men and the women got it cleaned up, and Sam was the top guy," said former Scranton Mayor Jimmy Connors.

Connors says he remembers even his wife was fielding calls from Scranton residents informing them which section of the city, which neighborhood, which street was going to be next. Connors and Tomaino say they knew how scary a time it was for the people of Scranton, and they were honored to serve them through the duration of the storm.

"It was constant. It was, 'Car 1 to 22, car 1 to 22.' That was my number, 22, and (the mayor) was car 1, naturally. It was all night long for 36 hours," Tomaino said.

Tomaino says after they exhausted all of their manpower, they called in outside trucks to continue getting the job done. And he says with everything they learned in 1993, just three years later, in January of 1996, Scranton DPW was even more prepared for that blizzard.

Watch more stories on the blizzard on WNEP's YouTube channel.

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