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As the storm bears down on the Tri-State area, residents of New York City cannot help but remember the “Bloomberg Blizzard” in the year 2010. In that blizzard, NYC was hit with approximately 20 inches of snow. A combination of heavy snow and strong winds led to massive transportation lockdowns across the city. Nearly all roads in the city (with the exception of major arteries) were left impassable for many days. Hundreds of buses were stuck in the snow. More than 400 passengers were stranded on the A train on the IND Rockaway Line for seven hours starting shortly before 1 a.m. One train did not open its doors when it stopped at the station. Dozens of LIRR trains were frozen onto the platforms. Hundreds of plows were on the road. NYC’s major airports, Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia were shut down.
Residents of the city were furious and complaining to Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the slowness of the snowplows attempting to reach their areas. Many plows became stuck in the snow that had accumulated on the streets and several could not get through as many residents had simply abandoned their cars in the middle of roads once it became too hazardous or impossible to move. These cars became stuck as the snow accumulated around them, creating roadblocks for the plows. Both Mayor Bloomberg and the chief of the sanitation department were urging residents to stay indoors and not shovel snow back onto the streets that had already been plowed.
Multiple explanations have been proposed for the relatively slow response of the snow cleanup in the New York City metropolitan area. For example, the local media did not fully alert the general public until very late about the impending storm due to the complexity and lateness of the forecast models predicting the storm; thus, public awareness was delayed. Another possible cause was that Mayor Bloomberg had previously laid off 400 New York City Sanitation workers due to budget cuts; therefore, fewer plows were at work. In addition, some city workers who are responsible for managing the snow removal process had taken the day off from work during the storm due to the Christmas holiday. Also, a snow emergency was not declared, contributing to the number of abandoned cars on the streets.
On December 30, the New York Post reported that several sanitation workers confessed that cleanup was intentionally slowed down to protest the aforementioned budget cuts. On January 3, 2011, WCBS-TV reported that prosecutors had obtained a video of two sanitation trucks driving down 155th Street in Whitestone, Queens after the blizzard with their plows raised so as not to remove the snow. Allegations were also made that sanitation workers slept on the job, hung out at a doughnut shop for 11 straight hours while on the job, and drank beer for six or seven hours while on the job. Claims were also made that supervisors encouraged such work stoppages.
The following are some YWN links from the Bloomberg Blizzard:
(Dov Gordon – YWN)