NEW YORK—Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the target of much ire since the December 2010 blizzard that immobilized New York City for days, held a press conference Wednesday morning to review the city’s response to Tuesday night’s storm.
City transit ran on schedule, most streets were plowed, traffic flowed reasonably well, kids were in school, and the city more or less continued with business as usual on Wednesday morning. Only 30 vehicles were stuck or reported abandoned, and not a single ambulance was affected.
The 5 to 9 inches of snow accumulated Tuesday night were admittedly mild compared to the more than 20 inches dumped on the city last month. However, after the barrage of criticisms, investigations, and press conferences that followed the December 2010 blizzard, the Bloomberg administration was keen to cover all of its bases this time around.
With a platoon of plows, a squadron of salters, chains on bus tires, extra workers on the ground, and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) command center at the ready, the city was well prepared to battle the bad weather this week.
“You’re never going to have the same emergency twice,” noted the mayor, recognizing that while preparations helped everything run smoothly on Wednesday, the nature of the storm played a big role too. “You’re never going to know whether those [preparations] made the difference or will make a difference in the future.”
The wind, timing, and other circumstances particular to each storm make every case unique. However, Bloomberg said he hopes to keep improving the city's storm response where the budget allows. The changes needed to optimize the process may be relatively easy on the pocketbook—many of the measures simply require better organization and communication.
“The storm is now passed, but there are several steps New Yorkers can now continue to take to make the day easier and safer for everyone,” said the mayor.
He thanked the public for using 311 instead of 911 for nonurgent matters and heeding the call to stay off the roads. The 311 line experienced its busiest hour ever on Wednesday morning, handling 45,000 calls between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Bloomberg reminded New Yorkers that property owners are responsible for shoveling snow on the sidewalks and around the fire hydrants in front of their homes or businesses. He also asked people not to shovel the snow onto the street. Alternate-side parking will be suspended Thursday.
The mayor encouraged residents to check that their elderly neighbors are okay. The city’s meal delivery program distributed a double load of food on Tuesday, but seniors may still require some help if their regular caregivers cannot reach them.
“If you’re feeling strong enough and you want some good exercise, shoveling out a path for everyone else is a nice thing to do,” said Bloomberg, reminding New Yorkers to be good Samaritans.