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On snow-clogged streets, residents’ frustrations mount

Long after cleanup crews hit the city’s roadways, Downey Court remained a sea of white, with calf-high snow jamming the street and trapping cars in driveways.

The mayor’s office urged Boston residents to give the crews time to get extra equipment to help plow such narrow and dead-end streets.

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But by Monday afternoon, patience was wearing thin.

“I haven’t left here since Friday,’’ said Brendin Ruff, a resident of Downey Court in Roxbury. “It was worse than this. It’s starting to melt now ­because of the rain.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino pledged over the weekend to make clearing side streets “a number one” priority. He had worked the phones Sunday and secured extra equipment from private contractors, state emergency management officials, and Vermont to help with the cleanup.

By Monday evening, Menino apologized to those residents whose streets remained impas­sable.

Pedestrians on Pickney Street on Beacon Hill found it easier to walk in the streets instead of on the sidewalks.

DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

Pedestrians on Pickney Street on Beacon Hill found it easier to walk in the streets instead of on the sidewalks.

With time ticking by and rains melting snow piles, some residents have taken matters into their own hands. They have grabbed their shovels and are clearing their narrow streets themselves.

“Basically, we cleaned it with our shovels Saturday and” Sunday, said a Woodville Street resident who did not want his name published.

Over the weekend, residents flooded the mayor’s 24-hour hotline for constituent services with more than 13,000 calls, more than 12,600 about snow plowing, according to city data.

By late afternoon Monday, a spokesman for the mayor was insisting that all the city’s 810 miles of roadway were “hit’’ by plows.

But don’t tell that to ­Maryann Bartolo, 52, who was waiting for plows to come to Hill Street in Charlestown.

Bartolo lives on Hill Street with her elderly parents. In all her years on the dead-end street, she said, she has never seen it left untouched after a snowfall for so long.

“We always had the plows come up,” Bartolo recalled. “Even in ’78, there was a lot of snow, but I don’t remember ­issues like this.”

She said she tried calling the city, but no plows had arrived, and she was not given an estimate of when her street might be cleared.

Now she worries about her 84-year-old father, who had a stroke and has unstable blood pressure. He needed an ambulance twice in the past several months, she said.

“In an emergency, every minute counts, and I’m not willing to lose my dad because the city did not have a significant plan in place,” Bartolo said. “It’s like a death trap if there were an emergency here.”

Pablo Vela, a 33-year-old resident of Summer Street in Charlestown, also expressed frustration that his street had not been cleared. He said he logged about five hours over the past two days digging out the street.

“It’s frustrating seeing so many other streets around here that are plowed,’' Vela said. “But our street is completely overlooked. It’s untouched. I’m shocked at how long it’s taken.”

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at mirons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons. Matt Rocheleau can be reached atmjrochele@gmail.com.
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