Parts of Queens struggled into Monday night with streets still clogged by snow from the weekend storm. Some residents took it upon themselves to shovel roadways and free stuck trucks as they criticized the city’s response in the borough.
“Why did certain streets in other neighborhoods get plowed two or three or four times before this street got plowed once?” Alex Blenkinsopp, 31, asked of 96th Street in Woodhaven. “We understand that resources are finite, but this just doesn’t make any sense.”
Blenkinsopp was redirecting traffic to keep vehicles from getting trapped in the knee-deep snow.
City Council member Eric Ulrich said Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration “failed” Woodhaven and other parts of his district, including Ozone Park.
“This is two days after the storm ended. It looks like the storm just ended 10 minutes ago,” Ulrich, a Republican, told reporters. “The people of this community are outraged. They are frustrated because they did not get their fair share of sanitation services.”
The complaints weren’t universal. Several residents said they understood the many demands on city resources considering the severity of the storm. The 26.8 inches in Central Park was just short of a record, and the National Weather Service said 36 inches was measured in Jackson Heights, Queens.
“It’s tough . . . for the people driving the plows,” said Daniel Berman, 69, a Sunnyside contractor. “I’m not upset. Considering the circumstances, they did alright. It’s a monumental task.”
City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said at a Monday morning briefing in Manhattan that her workers were prioritizing Queens, and that 900 pieces of equipment — out of 2,000 citywide — were there to clear streets. She and de Blasio cited heavier snowfall in the borough and narrower roads that traditional plows can’t effectively clear as among the challenges.
“If I’m living on one of those blocks, I’m going to be upset,” de Blasio sympathized.
He commended workers’ overall cleanup efforts and noted that some Queens neighborhoods such as Astoria were promptly cleared. The mayor said the city should be credited for adjusting its plan as quickly as it could.
City Council member Rory Lancman, a Democrat, speculated the response in Queens have been connected to inaccurate information on the city’s plow-tracking technology or more generally, “lack of competence.”
He said Monday night that trucks were finally descending on his district, which includes Briarwood and Kew Gardens Hills, but their job was made harder by the delay.
“Once you screw up a storm, it’s hard to recover,” he said. “They’re trying to deal with streets have been been packed into ice in the day and a half that it took them to get there.”
De Blasio said he wasn’t concerned about the PlowNYC tracker. “Sometimes there’s glitches but by-and-large I think it’s a very helpful tool,” he said.
Garcia said in some situations that plows couldn’t just push snow aside because there was nowhere to pile it, and front-end loaders were needed to drag out the snow and load it into dump trucks to be taken away.
In Sunnyside, retired teacher Katherine Locasto, 66, said Queens has been “neglected” for decades.
“It’s always been like this,” she said, standing by her car hidden under a thick blanket of white. “I think their main interest is to get Manhattan up and running.”
In Brooklyn, some Greenpoint residents were feeling overlooked, too. On Eckford Street between Driggs and Nassau avenues, snow remained piled a couple of feet high in the middle of the residential block. Drivers of several cars turned onto the block at the corner, looked, and immediately went into reverse.
Toni Haddad, 45, said, “I knew they went to get the main streets first, but I worry about emergencies. There are a lot of elderly people who live here.”
With Emily Ngo