Brad Lander’s Blizzard Cleanup Report
Today’s the day!
The New York City Council will hold hearings to examine why the City’ s cleanup efforts were so very bad during the Blizzard of 2010 (and other storms) and figure out what needs to change to prevent these problems going forward.
Yesterday Brad Lander sent his constituents a District blizzard cleanup report, to analyze the response in the neighborhoods of the 39th District and to summarize major issues that arose so they can be further investigated and addressed in the Council hearings and beyond.
Click on this link to read the Blizzard Report. Click on read more to see an summary of what’s included in the report.
-An analysis of the 392 communications Councilmember Lander’ s office received in the week following the blizzard, including the work that was done to address those complaints
-A description of the on-the-ground observations by staff, the councilmember, and constituents
-A description of the dozens of conversations that Councilmember Lander’ s office had post-cleanup, with residents of blocks that were not plowed for days (including a meeting with residents of a Kensington building where a veteran died a possibly-preventable death on Monday, 12/27), with key neighborhood institutions (e.g. hospitals), with sanitation workers (at a field visit to a sanitation garage), and other members of the public
-A summary of available news reports that address issues that arose in the district.
The finds of the report reiterate how deeply flawed the response to the blizzard was for the residents of Brooklyn. Throughout the week, Councilmember Lander’ s office received 392 complaints about unplowed streets, unshoveled subway entrances, poor access to hospitals, and stuck cars (including a stuck DSNY plow truck on Henry St, which remained stuck until late Wednesday evening). Ave C, Cortelyou, Ditmas Ave & Ave F, which are major east-west streets in Kensington were unplowed until Friday, evening, a full 5 days after the storm began.
An analysis of the data shows that the number of complaints about unplowed streets dramatically increased from Community District 12 (which includes Kensington & Borough Park) as the week went on. District 12 composed only 21% of complaints on Tuesday, but rose to 60% of calls on Thursday and Friday. Operations at the CB12 garage were clearly worse than at other locations. Councilmember Lander welcomes the recently announced decision to transfer the District 12 supervisor; however, a full investigation of what happened here is required.
As has been noted in media accounts, the City’ s 911 call system and EMS response was overwhelmed by the storm. One apparent, tragic consequence was the possibly-preventable death of a veteran, Mr. Joel Grossman, who lived at 135 Ocean Parkway, in the 39th District. Mr. Grossman began calling 911 at noon on Monday, December 27th, and neighbors began calling 911 around 6 pm, when they heard screams coming from his apartment. However, an ambulance did not arrive until after 7 p.m., by which time Mr.
Grossman had died.
The report also identifies elements of poor prioritization of cleanup in the 39th District. Several key streets around the districts three hospitals (Long Island College Hospital, New York Methodist Hospital, and Maimonides Hospital) were not plowed on Monday, and in some cases not until Wednesday. In addition, key pathways and entrances to subway stations were not prioritized, and were not cleared until Wednesday.
The City Council as a whole will be conducting a more complete investigation through several standing committees and community-based hearings. These hearings and other follow-up is necessary to investigate questions such as why a “ snow emergency” was not declared, what the chain-of-command was at key decision-points, etc.
While Councilmember Lander’ s report provides only a local view of the response, the analysis and experience of our office during this storm clearly indicate the need for several adjustments in citywide policy to improve response to the next major snowstorm:
-A full investigation of the DSNY Brooklyn District 12 response
-The adoption of technology that will allow sanitation dispatchers to know when a block has been plowed, and which streets remain uncleared
-A review of equipment and staffing levels at Sanitation
-An increase in collaboration between tow and plow operations
-The prioritization of the removal of snow around hospitals and subway entrances
Councilmember Lander looks forward to feedback from members of the public on this report, and to following up on these issues at the upcoming City Council hearings and beyond. It is essential that we understand the mistakes that caused the inadequate response, require accountability for these errors, and identify and correct systemic problems before the next major snowstorm.
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