Mayor Admits City Storm Response Could Have Been Better

NY 1 - December 30, 2010

The Bloomberg administration hopes to have all roads in the five boroughs plowed by 7 a.m. Thursday. This, as the mayor admitted Wednesday that the city's storm response should have been better.

Speaking from a hardware store in Hunts Point, Bronx, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that once the city finishes its cleanup effort, he wants to investigate why many city streets were delayed in getting plowed out. "We did not do as good a job as we wanted to or as the city had the right to expect," said Bloomberg. "And there is no question we are an administration built on accountability. When something works, we take credit for it. When it doesn't, we stand up and say, 'Okay, we did it, and we will try to find out what went wrong and then make that information public.' I cannot tell you for sure why it was a lot worse this time than the other times."

The mayor says the city plans to do an investigation into the storm response, once all city streets are plowed.

He also called for an investigation into how Sunday's blizzard overwhelmed 911 hotlines and emergency medical services, saying he was "disappointed" with their performances. There was a significant backlog of 911 during the blizzard.

However, the mayor affirmed to reporters that John Doherty is the "best" Department of Transportation commissioner the city has ever had.

The city hired 700 laborers Tuesday and another 1,200 Wednesday to help shovel snow.

The mayor said there are far less stuck cars and emergency vehicles blocking the sanitation crews, and the number of abandoned MTA buses on the road has decreased from 600 Tuesday to only 50 Wednesday.

Staffing of uniformed sanitation workers is still on course to drop by 500 compared to 2006, according to the mayor's management report, though officials say some were reassigned to snow removal during the storm.

"We haven't cut in the size of the sanitation department. We have the same number of plows out and the same number of people," Bloomberg said.

Meanwhile, the fire department's biggest unions charge that further cuts there could cause a repeat of this week's backlogged 911 calls.

"New York City Firefighters are not miracle workers, despite the heroic work that they do every single day," said Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy.

The Department of Sanitation says as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 100 percent of primary streets citywide are plowed, 96 percent of secondary streets are plowed, and 89 percent of tertiary streets are plowed.

However, department officials say in the bottom two-thirds of Brooklyn, only 72 percent of secondary roads have been plowed, and only 45 percent of side streets have been cleared. DOS officials say the number of abandoned cars on the road has impeded progress.

Bloomberg also said western Queens and Staten Island contain residential areas that "need a lot of work."

NY1 filmed some plows sitting idly in Jamaica, Queens Wednesday, and when Doherty was asked to comment he said, "We have more trucks available than we have people working on certain shifts."

Commuters throughout the city are still facing many unshoveled streets and sidewalks.

The amount of snow on many Queens streets have made them difficult to navigate on foot or by car. Business owners also say the lack of parking is hurting their bottom line.

During an exclusive interview with NY1 Tuesday, Department of Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty admitted that the massive blizzard that swept across the city got ahead of the department and that he was forced to use workers who had less training than usual.

"They only went to school for two weeks, they usually would go for a month," Doherty said. "I put them out there on Sunday I said ‘You’re out on the street. They said: ‘We’ve only had a couple days of driving.’ ‘I want you in the truck with a seasoned guy. You’re going to learn on the job, real time, real conditions, get the job done.'"

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement Tuesday that the city's snow-clearing efforts are "unacceptable" and said the Council will hold hearings on the matter starting on January 10.

Mass Transit Service Improves Almost all subway lines and all express bus lines are now operating.

Power problems have knocked out B train service between Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue in Brooklyn and 145th Street in Manhattan in both directions.

The N train is not running in Brooklyn and the Franklin Avenue shuttle is suspended as well. Bus service is still spotty in many areas.

At Flatbush, Brooklyn, subway and bus riders did not have the B and Q trains and the B35 bus earlier Wednesday morning, so riders had to trudge through the snow to other subway lines.

"I got to go to the Bronx, so I got to walk to the 2 or the F. I'm going to walk to the 2, to Nostrand Avenue," said a local. "Where's the bus? There's no buses. Coming home last night was a nightmare, please. Every day it's ridiculous."

"Irritating, I've been trying to get to work for three days and I have to walk all the way down to Nostrand Avenue to get the 3 train. Like 12, 14 blocks in the snow, slipping all the way," said another local.

"If the F train is running and it's an outside train, how come the Q train isn't running?" said a third.

Long Island Rail Road officials say they have regular rush hour service Wednesday night, with the exception of bus service which will in place of train service east of Ronkonkoma on the Main Line.

New Jersey Transit is running on a normal schedule for the rail, bus and light rail lines, and Amtrak has resumed normal service on its Northeast Corridor service between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

For more information on city transit, visit, and for traffic updates watch NY1 Rail and Road 24/7 on Channel 104.

All Mail Delivery Resumes, Trash Collection Halted Alternate side parking and meter rules remain suspended.

Garbage and recycling collection have not yet resumed, to aid the Department of Sanitation's clean-up efforts.

The U.S. Postal Service is delivering mail to customers in all five boroughs, but the agency reported delivery problems in the city late Tuesday.

USPS officials say all able mail carriers will be dropping mail in homeowners' mailboxes.

Zip codes that were affected begin with "103," "110," "111," "112," "113," "114" and "116."

Customers with unique concerns can call 1-800 ASK-USPS or visit

Airport Flights, JFK AirTrain Resume It is expected to take several days for operations to return to normal at area airports.

The Port Authority says over 200 flights were canceled Wednesday morning at Newark, John F. K and LaGuardia Airports combined.

A spokesman says some stranded passengers will get out today but because most airlines are booked, it will take a few days to get everyone out.

It's best to call ahead to find out the status of your flight before heading to the airport.

Travelers are hoping to avoid problems like Tuesday when many had to wait hours to get their bags, if they were able to get them at all.

About 10,000 bags are being stored because the Port Authority says many workers from an independent luggage contractor were not able to make it in because of the storm.

Some passengers also sat on the tarmac for up to eleven hours, because airlines said there was no gate available.

A Port Authority spokesperson says it is up to the airline to get clearance ahead of time to make sure there is a gate ready and staffing for it.

The AirTrain service to JFK has normal service now.

The city Department of Health is reminding New Yorkers to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by clearing snow from exhaust pipes before starting car engines. They also say residents should avoid running cars in enclosed spaces, and to clear snow from the vents of combustion appliances.

Additionally, residents should never heat their home with a stove or oven, and never use kerosene or oil-burning heaters indoors.

Meanwhile, temperatures reached a high of 40 Wednesday, which helped start to melt the city's snowdrifts. Temperatures will remain in the 40s through Tuesday, and reach a high of 50 on New Year's Day.