Weekend blizzard produces record snowfall
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 25, 2016 | 23319 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A news truck spent hours stranded on an unplowed 22nd Street in Whitestone Sunday afternoon.
A news truck spent hours stranded on an unplowed 22nd Street in Whitestone Sunday afternoon.
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This street in Maspeth was still not plowed as of 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon
This street in Maspeth was still not plowed as of 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon
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The country’s east coast was hit by a large winter storm this past weekend, producing record snowfall and shutting down many cities.

New York City received more than two feet of snow in total. Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a travel ban on Saturday afternoon, pushing cars off the road for Sanitation crews to plow the streets.

MTA buses stopped running by noon Saturday, and above-ground trains were also suspended. After the storm had passed, the mayor continued to urge New Yorkers to take precautions while traveling.

“While the storm is over, there is still work to be done,” de Blasio said in a statement Saturday. “If you go outside, use caution and stay alert for ice and cold temperatures.”

Three New Yorkers died from shoveling during the winter storm, including two in Queens, according to authorities. Police also reported 312 accidents and 367 towed cars.

De Blasio and Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg suspended alternate-side parking rules through the week. They also allowed cars to park by schools during school hours until Wednesday.

While most of New York City was dealing with the second-worst snowstorm in the city’s history – Central Park officially received 26.8 inches – Queens was reeling from higher snowfall totals.

Jackson Heights received 34 inches of snow, the highest in the city, according to the National Weather Service. John F. Kennedy Airport recorded more than 30 inches.

And as city workers plowed the streets to clear the road for cars, buses and trucks, many Queens neighborhoods still faced unplowed blocks.

In a press conference Sunday from the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in Downtown Brooklyn, the mayor said he was unhappy that many Queens neighborhoods, including East Elmhurst, Ridgewood, Corona, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Sunnyside still remained unplowed.

Queens elected officials and residents expressed frustration with the lack of plows seen in their neighborhoods.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo issued a statement Monday morning to relay his constituents’ collective frustration.

“I join my constituents in feeling extremely frustrated with the lack of a quick and appropriate storm response seen in Queens, particularly in my district. Many residents in neighborhoods such as Woodhaven and Maspeth have yet to see a plow on their streets,” Addabbo said. “Everyday activities remain at a standstill while communities wait to be unburied from more than two feet of snow, yet Mayor de Blasio failed to see how dangerous it is to have our children attend school on Monday.”

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association also issued a statement Monday morning about the city’s slow response in the neighborhood.

“We in Woodhaven are extremely disappointed by the city’s performance during and after the blizzard. Even now – 54 hours after the snow started to fall – dozens of blocks in Woodhaven still have not been plowed once,” the statement said. “Sanitation trucks have been stuck on our streets for hours.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer toured his district, which includes Sunnyside and Woodside, with de Blasio on Monday to view road conditions. He said his office will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for constituents.

“It is obvious to me that our neighborhoods need more resources to get every residential street, sidewalk and bus shelter cleared,” Van Bramer said.

In a press release, three representatives of Jackson Heights – State Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco Moya and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker - all commented on the city’s “insufficient response” to the snowstorm.

“We were clearly left behind by the administration, and this is very frustrating,” Peralta said. “The Administration promised that the streets were going to be cleaned and plowed by this morning, but this is not the case.”

Moya called the city’s response unacceptable.

“While the rest of the city is getting back on its feet after the storm, parts of Queens are still snowed in,” he said. “It has created a potentially dangerous situation for our residents.”

Many took to social media to post photos of their streets still filled with snow. On Twitter, residents used the hashtag #PlowQueens to share their feelings about road conditions.

“Major complaints coming in from parents and schools in every neighborhood,” tweeted Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

De Blasio responded on Monday afternoon with an update on the city’s storm response. According to the Department of Sanitation, 97 percent of streets, including all primary and secondary streets, have been plowed at least once. DSNY also said 96 percent of routes in Queens have been plowed since the storm ended.

Speaking on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, de Blasio said overall, it was a great city-wide performance by the Sanitation Department.

“I think when it comes to the tertiary roads, we needed to do better in some parts of Queens, and it’s different depending on the neighborhoods,” he said. “Different parts of the borough faired differently, but we definitely have to finish this today, get these streets in better shape.”

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