It was round three in the fight between New York City and mother nature last Thursday, as the boroughs were hit with the white stuff again. But this time, the result was less damaging and the handling of it more efficient.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Department of Sanitation, and the MTA were better prepared this time around. The Mayor announced a snow day for all New York City public schools – the 9th since 1978 - and buses were pulled off the streets at 12:30 a.m.
But the snow didn’t stop people from trying to get around. In Ozone Park, some residents were still waiting for a bus to go to work in the morning despite the bus service suspensions.
“I’ve been waiting for over an hour,” said one passenger waiting on the Q24 bus in Ozone Park. She was headed to work in Flushing. “But I have to go to work. One bus passed, it was out of service and the driver said another one was coming but still, nothing.”
As the snow began to melt, the buses slowly returned back to service throughout the remainder of Thursday and Friday.
Residents who weren’t willing to wait for the sun to melt the snow began shoveling as early as 7:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. Ozone Park residents along the stretch of 95th Avenue from Drew Street to 84th Street were out doing their part, shoveling cars and driveways out and helping one another.
Neighbors Francisco Colon and Freddy Sanchez shoveled for three hours on 76th Street. Colon couldn’t make it to work at 4:30 a.m., so he decided to wait until 7:30 a.m. to come out and start digging.
The consensus among neighbors: this time it was better and the mayor and sanitation did do a good job.
“I see more plows this time, the neighbors are doing their part,” said Colon. “We’re all chipping in and trying to do the best we can.”
For other residents, the snow only spelled more burden.
One family in Woodhaven with a diabetic daughter who needed dialysis couldn’t get off their block because the streets weren’t yet plowed. Their block was plowed early Friday morning with help from the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA), who called up Assemblyman Mike Miller to help expedite the plowing process. The family was able to make it to the dialysis appointment.
The WRBA’s block captain initiative proved successful in the wake of the second snowfall.
All captains reported the status on their respective blocks. On Thursday, 75th Street to 94th Street and 91st Avenue between Woodhaven Boulevard and 84th Street and many other blocks in Woodhaven remained unplowed.
Ed Wendell, president of WRBA, was disappointed in the response from the Sanitation Department.
“I followed up on the reports and found that over 80 percent of the streets we reported were unplowed nearly 12 hours after we reported them,” he said in an e-mail message. “I was lucky enough to get my car out and drive around Woodhaven and was stunned to see how bad it was.”
“We had a lot of problems in Woodhaven; it’s not fair for residents to have to suffer through that time and time again,” Assemblyman Mike Miller said. “Our residents deserve to have their streets plowed.”
Miller said he received less calls than the previous snowfall and although his office forwards them to the Department of Sanitation and the Mayor’s office, the blocks still weren’t plowed in a reasonable amount of time. He continues to urge residents to call his office to report any unplowed streets.