Think A Snowstorm Means Time To Curl Up With A Book? Think Again.

Mar 14, 2018

On the West Side of Providence, streets were mainly quiet as snow fell and wind howled through the trees. Many businesses shut down, and plenty of residents stayed warm and dry indoors. But the sidewalks were scattered with more than a dozen snowblowers and shovelers.

Ed Barbehenn was one of two people clearing sidewalks in front of a small business in the neighborhood. Why?

"Because this is our job. We work for a property management company, and we gotta keep the sidewalks clear for safety," Barbehenn explained.

How was it going? Well, the snow was heavy, but Barbehenn wasn't complaining. 

"Pays the bills," he said. "I’m looking five more years before retirement."

Barbehenn and his co-worker had been shoveling out properties across the city since the early morning hours, two of the many people who went to work during the storm, joining plow drivers, utility crews, public safety workers and retail and restaurant employees whose businesses don't stop for snow.

In Barrington, a Shaw's Supermarket remained open through the storm. Manager Karen Medeiros has a system she puts into action whenever snow is in the forecast: She sleeps at the store.

A Shaw's Supermarket in Barrington opened its doors during the storm.
Credit Lynn Arditi

"Upstairs," she said. "I have a blowup mattress that I keep on hand for emergencies like this just in case we lose power."

Medeiros said she keeps an overnight bag at the store at all times. After 48 years on the job, she knows what it takes to be prepared. And she wasn't alone. Other store employees were at work alongside her, helping the few customers who ventured out in the storm and stocking shelves to make sure the store would be ready for its post-storm customers.