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Queens Chronicle

Snow causes issues in borough and city

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Posted: Friday, November 16, 2018 4:53 pm

Commuters in the city faced long delays getting home on Thursday due to a heavier snowfall than originally predicted and, many say, a poor response to it from the city.

The National Weather Service reported Astoria received 5.7 inches of snow, with Whitestone getting 5.4 inches. Rego Park also got 5 inches.

Kennedy and LaGuardia airports received 4.8 and 4.7 inches of snow, respectively. Elmhurst also got 4.7 inches.

Jamaica, Little Neck, Howard Beach, Middle Village and Flushing were all hit with between 3 to 4 inches of snow, according to the NWS.

Traffic was backed up and there were long delays at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Penn Station.

And Queens streets saw problems too.

“I do believe the [salt] spreaders and the plows could’ve been out there a little quicker,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “And I have great respect for Sanitation, I think they do a phenomenal job but this comes from the Mayor’s Office. He had to prepare. Even if it was the 2, 3 inches they were initially saying, with the freezing temperature going into the overnight, you have to get out there earlier with the salt spreaders and the plows.”

Addabbo said he didn’t field any complaints Friday morning but received a few on Thursday night with the initial concerns that the streets weren’t plowed though he says it was rectified over a short period of time.

He said some calls were from people stuck on Myrtle Avenue or Fresh Pond Road.

“Some of them were just people who got home but it took them an extraordinary amount of time to get home,” Addabbo said.

Addabbo is hoping that this can be used as learning experience for next time.

“This, obviously, is the beginning of the long winter season and the snow season, so we hopefully learned a lesson from yesterday’s storm that weather reports and weather people on TV are not always accurate and we should just be better prepared,” he said.

Addabbo is not looking at the calendar and waiting for Dec. 21, officially the start of winter.

“I’m looking at, hey, it’s cold, we’ve got precipitation and, let’s face it, they say 1 to 3 inches but it could easily be 5 inches,” he said.

Addabbo added, “We as a city have to be prepared. It doesn’t matter what the calendar month or day says. If there’s a weather system coming our way, you’ve got to be prepared.”

On NY1 Friday, Mayor de Blasio said there was some “bad luck” on Thursday and that there aren’t really any lingering issues.

“There are definitely some things we need to learn from this and some things we need to do but it is also important to note that you know we got just about every form of bad luck we could have gotten yesterday,” de Blasio said.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) tweeted: “A little snow + a lot of government incompetence = nightmare commute for New Yorkers.” He added the mayor and the MTA, “dropped the ball on this one, BIG TIME!”

City Comptroller Scott Stringer sent a letter to the Department of Sanitation demanding answers regarding its response to the storm.

“The Department of Sanitation’s response to yesterday’s snow storm was neither prompt nor efficient,” Stringer wrote. “In fact, it was wholly unacceptable. In a city that routinely experiences heavy snowfalls each year, there is no reason that six inches of snow should have caused problems as severe as school buses taking more than 10 hours to bring kids home.”

Frank Gulluscio, district manager of Community Board 6, said his board recorded a total of zero complaints.

“I was shocked,” he said, adding that he went into the office on Friday morning expecting the answering machine to be full. There weren’t even calls about trees down though it took one of his staffers three hours to get home.

Ed Wendell, a Woodhaven civic activist, said he thought the situation was fine judging by his area.

“Snow is always an inconvenience but I think people’s expectations of what the city should be doing in a snow emergency has escalated over the years,” he said.

Wendell believes social media is a culprit in the situation.

“In the old days, you had bad weather and you dealt with it,” he said. “It messed up your commute. You got home and said your 45-minute commute took an hour and 20 minutes and that was it and you were done. But now you have this forum to the world where you can go, ‘Oh my God. It took me an extra 35 minutes. This is ridiculous. I didn’t see a single plow.’ It’s just like this outrage all the time.”

Robert Sinclair, spokesman for the American Automobile Association, said, “The vehicles that we use for our commutes day in and day out, which might be light and small and get good fuel economy, are extremely poor on slush and ice and snowy conditions, and that was manifested in a big way yesterday.”

He said part of a study looking at vehicles and rusting conditions because of new chemicals used to deice snow off roads made the determination that 70 percent of the country is subject to snow and ice.

“You absolutely have to have all-wheel drive in our area,” Sinclair said. “All-wheel drives systems are more and more commonly available in different ranges of vehicles even on small, inexpensive vehicles. It’s just critical that you have those kinds of systems with the type of weather that we get here in this area.”

According to Sinclair, it’s good to have  winter tires on all four wheels even if someone just has front-wheel drive.

He said when he went to Canada a few years ago, drivers were better prepared for abysmal weather conditions.

“Everybody had winter tires with some of the most aggressive looking tread patterns,” Sinclair said. “Those folks, they get those kind of conditions like we had yesterday on a regular basis and they’re prepared. We need to be as well.”

He told the Chronicle his drive home northbound on the Van Wyck Expressway passing over the Long Island Expressway took three hours, two longer than usual.

“There was a flatbed trailer truck and it was just sitting there spinning its wheels in the right lane,” said Sinclair, who feels that the weather caught everybody “off-guard.”

Sinclair noted the snow came on more quickly than drivers anticipated and gave a few reasons why the situation became as bad as it did.

“A lot of bad drivers,” he said. “A lot of vehicles ill-prepared to deal with the conditions, namely two-wheel drive vehicles, mostly front-wheel drive, little economy cars without winter tires and they’re just spinning and sliding. I saw a lot of cargo vans that were going down the road sideways just because they had little or no traction.”

Sinclair saw lots of people in big SUVs with all-system drives crawling along.

“I understand driving slowly but these folks were driving like they were in a driveway,” he said.

Sinclair said October is Car Care Month and different auto organizations give information explaining that it’s the month to get cars ready for the coming winter. “Well here we are, Nov. 15, and we got a snowstorm,” he said. “If people had heeded that advice they would’ve been prepared.”

He also pointed to what he believes is a lack of driver training and believes there should be more for driving in bad weather. Not that he thinks it would solve everything, but one step is having parents invest in ancillary driver training behind the wheel that includes wintry weather conditions and emergency maneuvers.

“I think that lack of driver training was profoundly evident yesterday,” Sinclair said.

“We really shouldn’t be surprised like we were yesterday,” Addabbo said.

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1 comment:

  • pvrjr posted at 5:50 pm on Fri, Nov 16, 2018.

    pvrjr Posts: 315

    At least the subways were in decent shape during this disaster. [smile]