New Yorkers weigh in on city’s snow response

Many New Yorkers say the city weathered the snow as best it could.

Many New Yorkers say the city weathered the two feet of snow as best it could, though some are reserving judgment to see how things go in terms of digging out.

The number of reported outages, deaths and accidents in the wake of the blizzard is low, and by Sunday evening most of the city was back up and running.

Experts, leaders and everyday New Yorkers spoke with amNewYork on Sunday about the response to the storm.

Overall response from leaders

Mayor Bill de Blasio has learned from the past and gleaned more insight and experience into how a storm should be handled before this blizzard, the first of his third winter in office, said Christina Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University.

De Blasio’s preparation ahead of the storm prevented an influx of problems and he and longtime adversary Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked together well in orchestrating the travel ban, Greer said. It’s a marked contrast from January 2015, when Cuomo shut down the subway system without giving the mayor any real warning.

“They realized when they’re not communicating, balls get dropped and it gets frustrating for New Yorkers,” Greer said.

Andie Davis, 46, a writer from Hell’s Kitchen, hailed de Blasio’s response when compared to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s actions following the Dec. 26, 2010 blizzard, when he was reportedly out of the country during the storm.

“[De Blasio] showed he was really in touch and beautifully prepared,” she said.

Transportation closures

Straphangers groups hailed the MTA’s moves to end bus service and close the exterior subway lines during the blizzard, saying the agency kept the system storm proof with as little disruption as possible.

“It was very good that trains were stored on express tracks out of the snow, rather than in outdoor yards. This enabled them to get service back up and running faster,” said Andrew Albert, the chair of the Transit Riders Council.

Ellyn Shannon, an associate director for the Permanent Citizen Advisory Committee to the MTA, said the agency will have a bigger challenge ahead this week.

“Focus now is the access to subways stations and bus stops, which is always hard after so many inches,” she said.

Snow clearing

The success of the initial dig out from the storm varied throughout the city, with some outer borough neighborhoods still desperately in need of plowing Sunday.

Jackson Heights had the most snowfall in the city at 34 inches, according to the National Weather Service, and the area’s city councilman, Danny Dromm, said several neighborhood roads were unplowed Sunday afternoon.

“This was a huge storm so it’s understandable that there can be a delay but anything that goes beyond tonight is not OK,” he said.

Woodside, Sunnyside, Ridgewood, East Elmhurst and Corona also were not adequately plowed, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday morning.

The mayor toured parts of central Queens later in the afternoon and acknowledged the slow response, stating that he was “not satisfied” with the work. He promised 850 plows would be clearing the streets all day.


Some restaurants, stores and other New York City businesses decided to remain open after the mayor asked for a shutdown.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said it’s difficult for the closed businesses to recuperate their losses, especially if they continue to welcome fewer customers in the coming days.

“Unless you’re doing twice the business that you normally do on the day you close, you can’t really make up from it,” he said. “I’d say yesterday was more extreme than just the normal snow and it becomes harder to get deliveries.”

Indeed, Michael Toback, manager for Westerly Natural Market in Midtown West, said he closed at 2 p.m. Saturday, 10 hours before the normal closing time.

“We were down 75%” in sales,” he said Sunday morning, and expected to lose 50% in sales Sunday. Still, Toback suggested that the city issue a mandatory shutdown in future storms.

“They should make it so if you don’t close, you get a fine,” he said.

(With Rebecca Harshbarger, Sheila Anne Feeney and Alison Fox)

Ivan Pereira