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Snow felt by living, dead

| Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010

When nearly 2 feet of snow bury a region, few people rest -- not even those who need burials.

The heavy snow caused some funeral directors to delay services, for the safety of mourners.

"So far, it might end up causing some delays with burials," said Bob Wolfe, funeral director of Wolfe Memorial in Forest Hills. "From a funeral home's perspective, removing a deceased from a hospital, nursing home or residence is a concern with the snow. Cemeteries are having a problem getting grave openings prepared."

Among Pittsburgh's larger cemeteries, Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville and Homewood Cemetery in Point Breeze reported delayed funerals.

Other services suffered, too. Pittsburgh, Penn Hills, Upper St. Clair, Wilkinsburg and Green Tree suspended garbage pickup, and Mt. Lebanon and Shaler delayed trash hauling and recycling one day.

Mail delivery was postponed in some areas.

"We attempted to make deliveries where it was passable, but it was overwhelming in terms of unplowed roads," Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley said. He said postal workers put chains on mail trucks and can wear special boots with spikes to help them navigate through the snow.

"You're just lucky to find someone who's shoveled out, and you can steal their spot," said James Anderson, 51, a carrier who drives to a neighborhood on his North Hills route, parks and walks from house to house. "Most of the people have shoveled, but there's still a lot of ice."

Mail carriers on motorized routes who deliver from their trucks likely would bypass mailboxes blocked by mounds of snow, Kelley said.

Power outages continued. About 2,800 customers of Duquesne Light remained without electricity as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, down from a high of 57,000 Saturday morning. Duquesne Light officials expected service to be restored by this afternoon.

Hardware stores ran out of salt and snow shovels.

The Home Depot at Ross Park Mall and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in Robinson had no shovels, although Home Depot expected another shipment. Lowe's manager Allen Lerch said the store sold 1,000 shovels since Friday, including hundreds of big grain scoops people apparently planned to use as snow shovels.

"They get the job done," Lerch said.

In grocery stores, such as Bloomfield Shure Save, supplies of bread, fruit and other produce dwindled because delivery trucks had difficulty keeping to schedules.

Pitt-Ohio Express, a Strip District-based freight company, warned its customers to expect delays.

Giant Eagle spokesman Dick Roberts said many deliveries were delayed "by a few hours," though none of its supermarkets were out of stock or had to close.

Freight giants UPS and FedEx prepared to battle more bad weather. Flights out of Memphis, FedEx's hub, were disrupted Monday, prompting the company to suspend its money-back guarantee policy on shipments. No flights were canceled, spokeswoman Jennifer Caccavo said.

Most of UPS' 4,800 employees in Southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia worked yesterday, though a few flights leaving Pittsburgh International Airport were delayed, spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said. Some packages bound for rural areas were delayed or not delivered.

PNC Bank officials shut down all 173 branches in the region on Saturday and said closing could happen again if necessary.

"We'll make that decision as the road conditions, the availability of electricity and the best interest of our customers and employees dictates," PNC spokesman Fred Solomon said.

Staff writers Chris Ramirez and Margaret Harding contributed.

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