- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Many Washington employers operated yesterday with bare-bones staff as the region struggled to recover from the powerful snowstorm. Of those who did make it in to work, many arrived late and weary after slogging through melting snow.
Federal government offices shut down for the day, except for emergency personnel and the U.S. Postal Service, following a day off from Monday's federal holiday. Some local government offices tried to conduct business as usual even as some agencies offered liberal leave or delayed opening.
Several corporations like Host Marriott Corp. in Bethesda and Watson Wyatt Worldwide in the District followed the federal government's lead, while others offered a liberal leave or work-at-home policy to their employees.
Don Sigmund is one of three principals for Wolf & Cohen Financial Services who trudged through 16 inches of snow to get to work yesterday. The rest of the 17 workers at the insurance brokerage firm in Northeast took liberal leave or were stuck out of town while traveling.
"I was able to make it into work on time [8 a.m.] because a nice stranger stopped to give me a ride, as well as pull two cabs out of snowbanks on the way," said Mr. Sigmund, who lives in Georgetown.
But today, Mr. Sigmund expects himself and everyone else in the firm to be at work on time and ready to make up the lost work time. "I can understand the weather, but everyone will be here, no buts about it."
Mike Smith advised his employees at Victory Van Corp., an Alexandria moving van services company, to take yesterday off rather than risk driving large vans on icy freeways.
"We have enough on staff today to take care of service orders that have to get done like say people moving to California this weekend," said Mr. Smith, Victory Van's chief financial officer.
But business was slow as fully 95 percent of Victory Van's customers chose to reschedule their move dates rather than having movers track slush and dirt into their homes.
The company plans to catch up with rescheduled orders and have most of its 200 employees back in the offices by tomorrow, he added.
Celsion Corp. in Columbia, Md., went ahead with a shareholders meeting yesterday morning despite the aftereffects of inclement weather.
"As long as we could get our shareholders and workers in here safely, we were going ahead with the meeting. We had one shareholder who came all the way from Idaho for it," said Mr. Deasey, spokesman for the research and development company.
About half of the 20 employees were at work, with most of the absentees telecommuting from home, Mr. Deasey said. "We have some senior executives who were stuck at their suburban homes, but we expect all of them back by Thursday or Friday."
Not all companies had low turnouts. General Dynamics was operating with about 85 percent of its 150 employees in the Falls Church office by 9 a.m., said Norine Lysons, spokeswoman for the defense contractor.
"The luxury of having a parking garage has really reduced the time commuters have to take in finding a sufficient parking spot," Ms. Lysons said.
Several workers like Mr. Deasey, of Celsion, had to spend 30 to 45 minutes digging out a parking spot once they got to work. "Plows do what they can, but you pretty much have to make a spot," Mr. Deasey said.
Some workers had to be at work regardless of the weather. Postal employees were expected to show up and deliver mail as long as mailboxes had been cleared of snow, said Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley.
Luther Huzzey, a carrier from the Postal Service's V Street Annex in Northeast, said getting around the District's streets with mail was no problem. "[The problem is] the parking. There's nowhere to park."
Jeffrey Sparshott contributed to this article.


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