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Mayor 'Not Happy' with Snow Clearing in Queens After Historic Storm

By  Jeff Mays and Noah  Hurowitz | January 24, 2016 12:55pm | Updated on January 24, 2016 8:15pm

NEW YORK CITY — The city did not do a good job plowing Queens, which saw nearly 3 feet of snow in some areas, Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted the day after the second largest snowstorm in New York City history.

Mentioning the neighborhoods of Woodside, Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona, the mayor said he was not satisfied with snow clearing by the city's Department of Sanitation — and promised to fix it.

The mayor later walked through the neighborhoods of East Elmhurst, Jamaica and Corona Sunday afternoon and spoke with residents of some of the hardest-hit areas about the city's blizzard response. 

"I'm not going to be happy this morning, I'm not going to be satisfied this morning," de Blasio said of Queens residents during a press conference at the city's Office of Emergency Management in Downtown Brooklyn Sunday morning.

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"We haven't forgotten about Queens," de Blasio added, promising to shift hundreds of pieces of equipment from Manhattan to the borough.

"Give us the rest of the day and we are going to make a very big impact on those neighborhoods," added the mayor.

The city was expected to have 910 pieces of equipment to help clear the nearly 3 feet of snow that fell in some parts of the borough.


Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia explained the city's shortcomings by saying that Queens is the largest borough in size and that it got hit with more snow, making plowing efforts more difficult.

According to the National Weather Service, 26.8 inches of snow were recorded in Central Park, while 30.5 inches were recorded at JFK Airport.

Jackson Heights had an astounding 34 inches recorded, according to the National Weather Service, marking the highest recorded total in the city.

"We want to make sure that we're giving the same service to Queens that we are to other boroughs," Garcia said.

De Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said 95 percent of Queens roadways had been plowed 11 hours after the storm ended, even though the borough has the most roadways in the city.

But because some pockets of the borough received 30 inches of snow at rapid accumulations of up to 3 inches per hour, some plows were stranded.

"Some streets had been plowed earlier and when trucks returned the snows had accumulated at the incredible rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour making navigation difficult, if not impossible," said Vito Turso, deputy commissioner of the Department of Sanitation.

The city then moved to send in 60 more plows that were in use in other parts of the city Sunday morning, Spitalnick noted, bringing the total to 910 plows from 850 plows.

"I'd argue that's what responsive government looks like," Spitalnick said.

In spite of the mayor's assurances, residents from Corona, Woodside, Maspeth and Sunnyside took to social media to voice their displeasure at the city's plowing efforts.


It seems my Queens taxes $$$ are not the same as Manhattan's for NYC Sanitation Department

A photo posted by Hugo (@hugothebarbernyc) on


One teacher who lives in Astoria and works in Richmond Hill said she plans on taking the N train into Manhattan, then catching the A train, just to get to work.

Video taken near her school showed some streets untouched by plows. 

Queens always gets left out because "it doesn't have big business," said the teacher, who asked not to be named.

The images recalled the blizzard of 1969, when Mayor John Lindsey was booed in Queens because of the failed snow plowing efforts there. Half the 42 people who lost their lives in that storm died in Queens.

"Reinforcements are coming," de Blasio told Queens residents Sunday.

"We have to do a lot more and quickly," he added.