Department of Sanitation prepares city for imminent blizzard

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The Department of Sanitation showcased the mounds of salt that will be dispersed throughout the snowstorm.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York City’s Sanitation Department (DSNY) began preparations Saturday for the snowstorm expected to batter the city from Sunday night into Tuesday afternoon.

Sanitation workers geared up for the arctic weather by pre-liquid treating over 500 miles of roadway. Sunday afternoon—as the first few snowflakes began to fall—front-end loaders could be observed loading gigantic mounds of salt into trucks, which will be spread throughout the city via a battalion of plows and other vehicles. According to the DSNY, there are approximately 59 district garages with more than 2,000 rear-loading collection trucks, 450 mechanical brooms and 705 salt spreaders.  These tools allow for the department to efficiently clear snow, ice, and debris (as well as abandoned cars) throughout the metropolitan area.

The Department of Sanitation say they are ready for the snowstorm. Photo by Dean Moses

The NYC Sanitation and NYC Emergency Management Commissioners held a brief press conference at the DSNY Spring St. Salt Shed, showcasing the preparation measures. Since the National Weather Service has created a Winter Storm Warning alert for New York City with harsh winds and up to 18 inches of snow, Deanne Criswell, Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department urged New Yorkers to remain inside if they can and to check up on their neighbors to ensure they have enough food.

“This is going to be a big storm and it’s going to stay with us for a while. By midnight and into the morning we are really going to start to see heavy snowfall. It could be three to five inches with the morning rush hour, and then it will continue to get worse throughout the day. To be outside, especially driving, it is going to be extremely dangerous but not impossible. We strongly encourage everyone to please stay at home tomorrow if you don’t have to go out. Even if the morning rush hour seems like it is drivable, but by the time the afternoon gets here it is going to be just as bad or even worse,” Criswell said.

Deanne Criswell, Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department spoke on the incoming storm. Photo by Dean Moses

Criswell reiterated the city’s preparation plan, including activating their tow truck task force. She says teams are taking the projected blizzard extremely seriously.   

“We are going to have a group of individuals that are working together to help remove any cars or debris that gets stranded and blocking those critical roadways, mostly so emergency vehicles can get through. We are also going to have tow trucks pre-positioned at some of those key bridges across the area where we always have some impact from this type of weather,” Criswell said.

NYC Sanitation Commissioner Edward Grayson was also present, assuring New Yorkers that the department’s staff is ready to “go full force” against the snowstorm starting at 7pm tonight with salt spreaders loaded and ready, accompanied by workers prepared to conduct 12-hour tours.

“This is a dangerous and prolonged snowfall event, so we encourage all New Yorkers to please stay off the road and let us do our job,” Grayson said, stating that only essential workers should be outside, and only if necessary.

Additionally, Grayson announced that on Monday alternate side parking has been suspended, schools will continue remotely, and refuse and recycling collection is postponed.

A front-end loader begins packing salt into spreaders. Photo by Dean Moses