The Difference Between What I Got And What I Want

For most snowstorms, my snow shovel will do. After this storm, I developed a sudden sharp desire for the Beast of the East.


After most snowstorms in Madison, CT, my sturdy snowshovel, purchased locally at the hardware store, does just fine. Out there at the crack of dawn and using the proper technique, I usually enjoy clearing my short driveway, parking area, and sidewalk.

If it gets icy, I break out my somewhat rusty but reliable spade. For storms that prove too much for those tools, I can count on Connor, a neighbor down the street with our neighborhood snowblower, which belongs to a woman across the street. She lets Connor take care of all of our driveways, as long as he takes care of her driveway too. For big storms, Connor brings along his mom and dad and girlfriend to help. For even bigger storms, our neighborhood association contracts with a plow guy to clear our private road. That has always worked for as long as I have lived here. 

And then came the Blizzard of 2013, and three feet of snow overnight last Friday into Saturday morning. To top it off, it then rained, and then temperatures dropped, leaving a thick, stubborn underlayer of ice.

Around Sunday, payloader was the word of the day

The head of our neighborhood association, along with the rest of the town, quickly scrambled to contract with someone who owned a payloader. We all cheered. Around Sunday, payloader was the word of the day and anyone who owned one was suddenly the most popular guy in town. 

After two passes with the payloader, we realized we probably also needed a dump truck to take all the excess snow away and then a place to dump that snow. We didn't have either.

Despite the best efforts of the association, and the people working on our streets, we were, for a while, along with the rest of the town, stuck. Eventually the snow and ice started to melt a bit, so with shovels and spades and our dedicated plow guy making many, many passes through, over a period of several days we began to free our cars from their icy tombs.

Hello, Beast of the East

And then Friday, I saw the Beast of the East. It was love at first sight. Owned by Top Dog Services out of Maryland, it was chewing up massive icy snowbanks and spitting 'em out like they were nothing.

I ran into Todd Dickerson, one of two brothers who owns the company, at Cumberland Farms late Friday night. He and his crew looked tired, but they had the quiet confidence of people who knew they had the tools to get the job done. He said the company got the call from CT DOT on Friday and the crew was up here by early Saturday, just as the storm broke, ready to go to work.

Todd and his crew often work at the Washington, DC area airports, but business has been a bit slow there, so they've become stormchasers, going where the work is whenever they are needed. 

We would have to save up for a long time

In addition to the Beast of the East Oshkosh High Speed Snowblower, they have payloaders, dump trucks, and a wide variety of other heavy equipment to get the job done. 

Not that I'm going to buy one, but I was curious as to how much they cost. I found a story from 2005 that said they were going for $350,00 to $500,000 even way back then. That sounded like a lot until I started reading the specs. Then it seemed reasonable.

I don't think that's in our association's budget. So I'm pretty sure the people on our private road will continue to stock up before major storms, hang out with each other during the storms, and help each other out afterwards. But I'm sure glad The Beast of the East, Todd, and his crew are there for us when we need them. 

Matt February 16, 2013 at 05:25 PM
The tractor itself has a 354HP engine. The blower has it's own 575hp engine. With an optional upgrade to a 700hp blower engine. I want one too.
Herb February 16, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Talk about "Boy-Toys"!! I want one too. The State crew used a similar size pay-loader to push-back the snow piles along Rt. 1, and I swear the operator could thread a needle. They saw me struggling to clear a hydrant, and in one bite, he did the whole thing. Thanks Guys.
Matt February 16, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Their next toy should be a tow-plow. One DOT truck can clear a 25 foot swath of highway in one pass.
Peggy Reavely February 17, 2013 at 06:04 PM
These are also commonly used in Syracuse, NY. I miss their efficiency.
Pem McNerney February 17, 2013 at 07:26 PM
I bet! And I can see why Syracuse would have them. They're No. 1 on this list, http://www.city-data.com/top2/c464.html, with 115 inches a year/average snowfall. Madison apparently has about 24 inches a year, below average for CT, and about average for the US. So that's another way to think about this snowstorm. We got more snow overnight Friday into Saturday last week than we usually do all year. http://www.usa.com/madison-ct-weather.htm


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