Day Four: Your Blizzard Post-Mortem Roundup


Mayor Bloomberg has promised to find out why the city’s blizzard response was so crappy, but the tabloids may have beat him to the punch. The Daily News has a thorough look today at what happened, while a New York Post report accuses sanitation saboteurs of purposefully slowing down the clean-up effort. Meanwhile, the New York Times thinks the city missed its 7 a.m. deadline and is wondering, yet again: has your street been plowed yet? (Hint: If you live in Brooklyn, the answer is probably “no.”) Highlights of what went wrong below.

From the Daily News‘ recap:

  • When the National Weather Service issued the blizzard warning on Christmas Day, city officials and the Office of Emergency Management got on a conference call (which did not include Mayor Bloomberg).
  • During that conference call, the city “decided not to declare a citywide snow emergency,” which meant allowing people to park their cars on major streets. The stranded or abandoned cars would later “block snowplows, ambulances and firetrucks.” Oops.
  • Sanitation Department officials were apparently “scrambling like crazy” to contact workers on Christmas Day and get them to come into work. People like their days off, damn it.
  • The Sanitation Department eventually got plenty of people on the streets, but “plowing snow” wasn’t necessarily in their job descriptions. “The group included 100 rookie drivers working their first storm. They only had two weeks of instruction and just a few days of driving.” (Hence, this sort of thing.)
  • 9-1-1 was bombarded with almost 50,000 calls and at its peak was wading through a backlog of 1,300 calls. Bloomberg eventually reminded New Yorkers they should only dial 9-1-1- during, um, actual emergencies. (Which presumably includes the women in labor and the “heart attack victims waiting up to an hour for help.”)
  • Meanwhile, another News story says the MTA also made a major blunder by waiting several days before upgrading its weather response plan. It also suffered from holiday staffing problems, which meant the agency was unable to move trains into tunnels (to prevent them from getting snowed in) or set up heating devices to keep third rails and switches ice-free on outdoor tracks.
  • The Post today says some a group of whistleblowers met with a city councilman and accused sanitation department supervisors of sabotaging the clean-up process to protest budget cuts: “They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file.”
  • During a press conference this morning, Bloomberg said he’d consider an investigation, and Governor David Paterson condemned the allegations, calling them “a very, very serious breach” and “outrageous, if it’s actually true.”
  • Meanwhile, start enjoying your more expensive MetroCards. The New York Times says subways are running normally again, but 41 bus lines are still derouted from their normal routes and “most” of the other bus routes “are subject to delay”.
  • And remember yesterday’s promise that all of the city’s streets would be plowed by 7 a.m.? The New York Times‘ City Room blog is once again asking (although probably rhetorically, this time) readers to answer the Question of the Week: has your street been plowed yet?