FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON CITY'S RESPONSE TO SNOW STORM
Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks as delivered at City Hall follow:
"Good morning. Let me bring you up to date on the storm that hit our city last night and this morning. The Police Commissioner is here. He has to go to another meeting, so unless anybody has any real questions for him - I don't think you do - when he walks out it isn't that he doesn't care, it's just that I've told him do the other meeting.
"When the snow stopped falling at about 4:00 AM, the official reading in Central Park was 19 inches. This is roughly twice the amount of snow that yesterday's evening National Weather Service forecast told us to expect. And we have now had the snowiest January in New York City history. We have had 36 inches since January 1st, breaking a record last set in 1925.
"The heavy overnight snowfall - which amounted to a foot or more of new snow by the early morning hours - is why we decided to close schools today. Emergency agencies, like police, fire, and the public hospitals, have remained open. And as I said over the course of a dozen or so interviews with TV and radio stations this morning, as transportation options get better, City employees should come in to work.
"The weather emergency that we declared yesterday afternoon remains in effect. Street cleaning and meter regulations will be suspended today and tomorrow. Clearing the streets remains our number one job - and to do that, motorists should please, please refrain from driving.
"If you get stuck, your car will be towed at your expense, and you also prevent us from plowing. So it would be very helpful if people did not use their cars. Thankfully, most car owners appear to have heeded the emergency declaration we issued. We have relatively few reports of stuck vehicles on our roadways and traffic is light.
"First, let me give you an overnight update. The City's tow truck task force - one of the elements of our new 15-point snow emergency plan that we developed this month - operated overnight out of the Emergency Operations Center at Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn.
"OEM Commissioner Joe Bruno reports that dozens of ambulances were stuck at one point or another during the night. However, no patients were left in the stalled ambulances. The stuck ambulances were either rapidly towed out of snowdrifts, or patients were transferred to other ambulances that were dispatched to the scene. EMS reports that road and weather conditions made their response times higher than normal, but no calls ever remained in a queue. And OEM also dispatched snow removal equipment and crews from the Parks and Transportation Departments to clear some emergency entrances and driveways at City hospitals.
"All public and voluntary hospitals in the city remained, and remain, open.
"In terms of power, overnight there were two small, separate episodes of power outages on Staten Island, but as of 7 a.m., power had been restored in both of those cases.
"The MTA bus service was suspended about 12:30 this morning. MTA President Jay Walder is with us and will, in a few minutes, describe storm-related service changes.
"The Sanitation Department's strategy is to plow as much as they can, where they can, and then return to remove stalled vehicles.
"City public schools, as you know, are closed for the day. After-school programs are closed as well. The combination of mass transit delays and suspensions, and difficult conditions on secondary and tertiary streets, made this decision the only right one for parents, students, and staff. As you know, this is not a decision that we make lightly; we never want our kids to lose a day of school, or their parents to lose a day of work. For the record, this is only the ninth time since 1978 that schools have been closed because of snow. Parents, students and staff should assume that all schools, and all after-school programs, will be open tomorrow.
"We are in discussion with State education officials about finding a solution for students who were unable to take the Regents exams scheduled for today. This is not a problem only for New York City, there are other cities in the southern part of the state that have exactly the same problem.
"Yesterday, the City's human service agencies responsible for meal deliveries to shut-in or disabled New Yorkers made double deliveries of meals. And we really urge elderly neighbors with any such infirmities to remain in their homes until conditions permit them to get out and get about again. It is slippery and it will be slippery tonight when the warm weather, as it does every night, goes away and things freeze.
"At the moment, our Sanitation Department has 1,700 plows out on the streets cleaning snow. They are being assisted by a few hundred additional plows from the Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, and other agencies. We are also getting help from 128 hired pieces of equipment, including backhoes, bobcats and front-end loaders. And we're calling in upwards of 1,500 day laborers to shovel out bus stops and crosswalks.
"All primary streets and highways have received at least one pass of the plow - and we're now working on secondary and some tertiary streets. Our expectation is that by tomorrow morning's rush hour, all of the city's streets and roadways will have been plowed. Keep in mind, on some of the secondary and tertiary streets the snow gets plowed to the side where there are cars. When you shovel out your car, it would be helpful if you shovel the snow other than back into the middle of the street. When it gets into the middle of the street, it just gets messy and also gets to be dangerous.
"Even though the storms are passed, there are several steps that New Yorkers can continue to take to make the day easier and safer for everyone. First, people should please use nyc.gov for all information related to the snow. And keep 911 emergency calls to a minimum. If it's an emergency, 911. If it's not, please do not use 911. Leave it for people that really need it.
"Let me say something about 311, which is where you can go and we urge you to go. As of 8:30 this morning, 311 had received 145,000 calls since midnight - more than triple the normal number for a 24-hour period, and that puts us on track to match our highest total ever. The system is very busy. Please go to nyc.gov and it will direct you to 311 online. That will get you quicker response than if you wait in the queue for a person to actually talk to you.
"Second, now that the snow is ended, property owners are obliged to clear the sidewalks in front of their houses and businesses - and if you have a fire hydrant in front of your property, please make sure it is shoveled out, as well. If God forbid there is a fire and fire engines show up, we want them to be able to get water on a fire as quickly as possible. It could save a life. And if they have to start by finding the hydrant and shoveling it out, that just takes precious seconds away from it and that could be life threatening.
"Don't over exert yourself when you're shoveling your driveway, sidewalk, walk, car out. This snow is heavy, and if you don't exercise everyday just take it a little bit easy. Thousands of our fellow New Yorkers might need help shoveling out of their homes, so if you would like to volunteer to help them, please, once again, go to nyc.gov. We are a nation of volunteers as the President has asked us to be, particularly here in New York City, and we're happy to help those who need it. Keep an eye on your neighbors and older New Yorkers who might be having a really rough time during this kind of weather. It'd be nice to knock on the door and say, 'You okay? You have heat? Need a quart of milk or something? If you have to go someplace, can I walk with you so you don't slip?' Those kinds of courtesies make all the difference in the world.
"And for the latest details on services and alerts from the City, visit our new webpage at nyc.gov, which posts updates and other information. It makes it very easy to get everything in one place.
"Let me just try to summarize for our Spanish-speaking New Yorkers. Anoche tuvimos casi diez y nueve pulgadas de nieve, es mucho. Nuestras escuelas están cerradas hoy pero abrirán mañana. Todos tenemos que limpiar las aceras. Seguimos bajo una emergencia del clima y queremos que los coches se mantengan estacionados. No maneje al menos que sea necesario. Llame al nueve once solo en caso de emergencias. Para todo lo demás llame al tres once."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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