The Blizzard of 2013 was merciful to the borough of Queens.
While parts of Long Island and New England dug out from record-breaking snows that stranded people on highways and essentially shut down entire towns last Friday, Queens escaped with little more than a typical February annoyance.
“I’ve seen worse,” said one Ozone Park resident shopping at Met Foods on 101st Avenue.
In southern Queens neighborhoods hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, this storm packed a lot less of a punch.
About 4,000 lost power in Far Rockaway at the height of the storm, according to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park), but they were restored by noon on Saturday. Around 1,000 people in the Rockaways are still without power from Sandy, though some left in advance of the weekend snowstorm. The Long Island Power Authority, which serves the Rockaways, was harshly criticized for its response to Hurricane Sandy and turned over control of its lines to National Grid before the snowstorm.
At least one resident in the Rockaways compared the waves in the Atlantic Ocean to those created by Sandy, but only minor coastal flooding was reported in areas that typically flood during nor’easters.
In Howard Beach, the problem was the amount of snow, and a number of residents near Charles Park said they had only seen one or two snowplows during the storm, far fewer than in areas closer to the Belt Parkway.
Nevertheless, the department got positive reviews from Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
“[Department of Sanitation] is doing a superb job clearing the snow in my district,” he said on Twitter during the storm.
Don Riepe, a Broad Channel resident and environmental activist, agreed.
“The city did a real good job,” he said, noting one problem his neighborhood has had — where plowed snow blocked drainage at the end of its many dead-end blocks — did not materialize. He credited Jamaica Bay with some of that.
“When the tide came in on the street, it washed the snow away,” Riepe said.
The snow was the only real victim of the tide this time. Though Riepe said he had some water in his basement, the effects of the tide across Broad Channel were minimal.
“I may be the only one with any water problems,” Riepe said.
Dan Mundy Sr., another Broad Channel resident and president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, agreed the storm was little more than a nuisance to their community.
“Well, we didn’t need another storm,” he said. “The people are very frustrated with all they’re going through. But it could have been a lot worse.”
The storm brought the biggest snowfall in the city in more than two years. The last big snowfall was the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard that dropped two feet of snow. In that storm, city officials and the Department of Sanitation were criticized for leaving a number of residential streets in the outer boroughs unplowed, including many in Queens.
But this time, the department kept tabs on where their plows were, and allowed citizens to do so as well. On a map of the city posted on nyc.gov, the streets were shaded in different colors depending on how long it had been since a plow passed and people could click each street to see when it was last plowed.
Queens residents shouldn’t put away their shovels just yet, however. Forecasts call for a chance of more snow this weekend. That has some in Sandy-affected areas fed up with Mother Nature.
“It would be nice if the weather backed off and gave us a little break,” Mundy said.