New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

NY1 City Officials Face Mounting Criticism Over Snow Response by Spectrum News Staff

City Officials Face Mounting Criticism Over Snow Response

Streets were more like parking lots as freezing temperatures turned roads icy and slick, leaving many wondering where were the City Sanitation snow plows.

The snow and wind sent trees toppling over across the five boroughs.

The Parks Department says it was responding to reports of over 750 downed trees citywide.

There were also reports of trees down in Central Park.

On Manhattan's Upper West Side, some fell on cars, blocking them into their spots on the street.

 

The weather brought things to a standstill at Port Authority Bus Terminal.

There was limited service at the transit hub because many buses got stuck on the snowy roads.

Unsurprisingly, that led to overcrowding and at one point people couldn't even get inside.

While all this was happening, the Port Authority sent out a tweet urging commuters to find another way to get home.

 

Mayor Bill de Blasio says Thursday's storm hit harder than anticipated and made it a little more difficult to get ahead of.

Speaking to NY1 Friday morning, de Blasio said a "perfect storm" of conditions led to a "bad, bad situation" in the city's response.

 

"There are definitely some things we need to learn from this and some things we need to do better. But it's also important to note that we got just about every form of bad luck that we could have gotten yesterday," De Blasio added.

 

Both local politicians and many New Yorkers expressed disappointment at the city's response.

Many complained that streets were unplowed and others say it took them hours to get home.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Brooklyn councilman Justin Brannan were among the politicians who accused the city agencies of dropping the ball.

New York City Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner Henry Jackson says a rapidly changing forecast made the storm harder to get ahead of.

"We take a look at every job after it happens to see what we can do better next time. This was a tricky storm, the forecast intensified right at rush hour, it slowed down, it stayed colder. It just made it a difficult storm to fight," Jackson said.

In a statement, the city Sanitation Department said, "The Sanitation Department had nearly 700 salt spreaders pre-deployed around the city by noontime.  The afternoon snowfall was much heavier than had been forecast by all weather outlets requiring that we deploy plows. Complicating issues was the fact that several bridges were closed and traffic, particularly in the Bronx, upper Manhattan and on Staten Island, came to a halt with our snow clearing equipment stuck within. Tree branches also snapped from the weight of the snow blocking many streets. More than 1,000 pieces of equipment are working through the night to clear all roadways for the morning’s rush hour."

Alternate side parking rules are suspended Friday. Meters will still be in effect.

The MTA on Friday responded to criticism that it did not put chains on bus tires.

The agency says its all weather tires would have been sufficient had the streets been cleaned.

In a statement, the MTA said, "Our buses were held hostage to massive gridlock citywide. Our bus operators and front-line employees fought through epic traffic and kept the subways moving - and we’re grateful for their dedication during a tremendously difficult commute."

Meantime, the Department of Education confirms some 700 school buses, with children aboard, got caught up in all the mess Thursday night.

They boarded the buses just as the storm was kicking in and, in some cases, the children did not get home until early Friday morning.

Angry parents, teachers and advocates are questioning why the city did not delay school openings Friday given a number of bus drivers never went to bed.

Also teachers were stuck out late, after parent teacher conferences.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, who was out trying to locate a bus full of pre-schoolers, is introducing a bill requiring all buses to have GPS trackers.

"By the time the police finally intervened after midnight, there were still five kids on the bus, that means they were on the bus for 10 hours without a bathroom, without food, I don't care if your an adult that's a long time to be on a bus," he said.

The DOE canceled all after school programs Friday. But working parents are questioning why, 24 hours after the mess.

NY1 has reached out for comment from the Schools Chancellor.

Get involved to make your voice heard.

Get monthly updates with the information you need to make a difference.