Blizzard Causes Havoc
The massive storm, the sixth worst in city history, brought numerous reports of homeowners whose streets had not been plowed and could not get oil deliveries, who could not get to vital medical appointments, who did not have access to vital emergency medical, fire and transportation services and who remained stranded on Wednesday.
While main streets, such as Seagirt Boulevard and Rockaway Beach Boulevard were plowed quickly on Sunday, side streets throughout the peninsula remained impassable as drivers tried in vain to retrieve their stranded cars.
When The Wave reopened on Tuesday morning, the calls began to pour in, particularly from residents on the west end who had not seen a plow pass through their street since the storm began on Sunday morning.
“I need to get an oil delivery and then I have a vital doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and my street still hasn’t seen a plow,” said one Beach 124 Street resident, who added that she dug out her car and could get out of her driveway if there were anyplace to go.
“I called 311 on Monday afternoon, and held on for more than an hour before somebody came on and told me that the report that an abandoned car was snowed in near the middle of the block would be noted, but that there was no time schedule for how long it would be to get it towed and get the street plowed. My oil will run out soon and my pipes will freeze,” the woman complained.
At one point, reports say, the fire department had a backlog of 1,300 calls on its 911 emergency system.
The New York Post reported on Tuesday that some people had to wait two hours or more for emergency assistance on Sunday and Monday and that EMTs were ordered to take no more than 20 minutes on each call, even if they were in the middle of performing CPR.
Published reports say that one woman in Brooklyn, who was in labor and could not get out of her home, waited nearly five hours until firefighters appeared and delivered the baby. The firefighters then had to carry the woman five blocks through the snowbound streets to get her to an ambulance that could then transport her to the hospital.
In a statement, FDNY officials said, “Because of the severe weather, responses were significantly delayed in some incidences. High call volume coupled with impassable roads in a number of areas delayed responses by EMS and fire units.”
Even the post offices on the peninsula were closed until Wednesday and mail delivery was suspended as well.
City Councilman James Sanders Jr. blasted Bloomberg and his administration for the way they handled the storm emergency.
“Not since the days of former New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay’s administration has the City’s snow removal efforts been so woefully led and poorly executed,” Sanders said. “In this day of modern marvels, when we knew ahead of time that a major storm was approaching, how can it be that our 21st century City has ground to an 18th century halt? That a horse and wagon would have done better for you than any modern vehicle? Were I still in the Marine Corps, courts-martial would be the order of the day.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, responding to criticism of the way his administration handled the storm, said, “There’s no reason for anyone to panic. Our city is doing exactly what you would want it to do. Snow removal is being handled by the best professionals in the business.”
Bloomberg added that he understood that it was an “inconvenience” for those whose streets had not been cleaned or who had no public transportation.”
He called it a “minor inconvenience.”