Serve D.C. helps elderly clear snowy sidewalks

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - Markus Batchelor is one of the dozens of D.C. volunteers who have signed up to help clear snow and ice from sidewalks at the homes of the city’s elderly and disabled residents.

"Government can't do it all," he says. "I'm able-bodied, so why not be the person to give that service when I can?"

On Wednesday, Batchelor came straight from work to help Ellen Van Edwards, who is on oxygen and needs a cane to get around.

"When they offered this program, I said 'Oh my God, that is fantastic!" says Van Edwards.

This is the first year that “D.C. Serve” has organized the citizen snow patrols. The law says residents are responsible for clearing their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowstorm – and this one packed a wallop. The calls for help are piling up.

"I think it may be 135 on that list right now, and that number is growing every day -- but we only have about 65 to 70 volunteers," says Clarence Fluker, "Serve D.C." coordinator.

In Montgomery County, concern over sidewalks is part of the reason that schools will open two hours late on Thursday – many are still covered in ice and snow, and with temperatures expected to hover in the single digits, side streets may re-freeze.

Students have been off all week, though some parents are ready to get their kids back in the classroom:

"I lived in New England for eight years and this is nothing...people freak out," says parent Estevan Olibares.