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Staten Islanders Fume Over Streets Left Unplowed for Morning Commute

By Nicholas Rizzi | February 13, 2014 1:39pm
 Residents said the streets were left unplowed and dangerous by the city, making it near impossible to get to work and school, after the storm.
Staten Island Snow
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STATEN ISLAND — Halfway through the latest winter storm, many residents said they felt forgotten yet again by the city and its new mayor.

Staten Islanders said their streets were untouched by plows in time for the Thursday morning rush hour, even as public schools were open and parents had to schlep their kids to class.

"It was very bad," said Gergis Gamel, 43, who lives in New Springville, and had to drive his two kids to school this morning. "They're supposed to clean it right away."

Gamel said the usually bustling Nome Avenue did not get plowed until after 10:00 a.m., and the driving conditions still looked bad afterward.

For many others the commute to school was a dangerous experience because of poor road conditions, and a video obtained by DNAinfo New York showed a school bus skidding out on Bement Avenue near Forest Avenue on Thursday morning.

S.I. School Bus Snow Swerve
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A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said they did not receive a report about the bus skidding out, and was checking to see if any others were reported in the borough.

By noon parts of Nome Avenue designated as a primary street last saw a plow at around 11:30 a.m., according to PlowNYC. A section of the road designated as a secondary street had not been cleared since 10:09 a.m., according to the website.

Forest Avenue and Bement Avenue also saw plows around 11:30 a.m., but many secondary streets in the borough haven't seen plows since around 3:00 a.m., according to PlowNYC.

The Department of Sanitation said because the snow came down so rapidly, they had to constantly return to primary streets to plow before they could move on to side streets.

"Due to the intensity of the storm, the Department had to go back to the primary streets — plow them again — to keep them open as snow fell 2 to 3 inches per hour," said Kathy Dawkins, spokeswoman for DSNY. "After the primary streets are passable, the Department can proceed into the side streets."

Some parents took to Twitter to vent their frustrations at the city for leaving schools open, with one posting pictures of a street near P.S. 3 that was left unplowed until 10:30 a.m.

"It is horrible in the streets of Staten Island. Can't believe schools are open," Stephii Kennedy tweeted.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Staten Island elected officials also blasted the city for their response to snow in the borough and the decision to keep schools open.

"Yet again, the Mayor's preparation and response to today's winter storm has been deplorable, but the latest contradiction in advising residents to keep off the icy, treacherous roads while still keeping public schools open is ridiculous and dangerous," Rep. Michael Grimm wrote on Facebook.

"While I don't often disagree with its calls, I think the City got it wrong today. Schools should be CLOSED. Poor conditions and visibility and it's not going to stop anytime soon," Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis posted on Facebook.

Aside from unplowed streets, commuters faced delays on buses, trains and the Staten Island Ferry, according to the MTA. The lower level into Staten Island on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was also closed on Thursday morning, but was expected to be reopened for the evening rush hour, a spokeswoman for the MTA said.

With the constant snow storms hitting the city in 2014, Staten Islanders have felt more forgotten than usual since de Blasio took over.

Streets were left unplowed two days after last month's storm, and Staten Island lodged more than 900 complaints about "snow removal" to 311 in that storm, the most in the city, according to NBC New York.

Gamel, who had to skip work as a physical therapist because he didn't want to drive on the roads, said former Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the snow much better.

"Since the new mayor, it's completely different," he said. "Usually it's clean right away."