The marquees on houses of worship across the Northeast have made it clear: “Whoever is praying for snow, please stop.”
With seven substantial storms under the borough’s belt this winter and the most recent mix of snow and ice pelting the city streets, businesses and residents have been feeling the effects of the worst winter in decades.
One Flushing family was shocked and horrified early Tuesday morning when police and fire officials discovered a car buried under several feet of snow containing the body of a male in his 20s who apparently shot himself in his vehicle last week. Reportedly, a near-by neighbor said that seeing cars buried under the snow in their community was nothing new.
“There are still cars buried from the second snow storm we had after Christmas,” said Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and the Woodhaven Business Improvement District. “Usually, we have a lot of people parking their cars and shopping. We haven’t had that. January is always a slow month, but this is really bad.”
In areas like Glendale, homeowners who have often spent hours digging out their cars are very proprietary of their parking spots, sometimes marking them with trash cans or cones.
“We do all the work. It’s unfair – I come home from work and my spot is gone,” said one resident of 64th Street.
With metered parking constantly suspended, costing the city approximately $300,000 a day according to city officials, finding places to park and shop has been difficult due to drivers occupying parking spots for hours at a time. One bright spot has been certain shopping centers like The Bay Terrace in Bayside, which has a consistent record of clearing their lots and creating lots of spaces for parking.
“The lots are always clean and the maintenance tries their best,” said Lena Briskin of Alicia’s Jewelers.
Another problem shared by Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing BID, has been damage to streets caused by melting snow underneath massive accumulations and Sanitation plows.
“This has become extremely dangerous for pedestrians and drivers,” said Yu, who also said that the Department of Sanitation has done a “great job.” This message was reiterated by Gregg Sullivan, executive director of the Bayside BID who had to carry his dog across Bell Boulevard in fear of pebbles, rocks and salt harming his dog’s paws. Sullivan – who has proposed a meeting of business owners along Bell Boulevard to discuss the impact of the snow on the local economy – said that January is going to be one of the worst months on record in terms of commerce.
“By night, Bell is thriving, but during the day, nobody is doing any business anywhere,” said Sullivan.
Since the debacle surrounding the Blizzard of 2010, in which some allege Sanitation workers slowed down the progress of plowing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has received less attention in the media and by local politicians regarding the clearing of main and side streets. The president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, Edward Wendell, believes Woodhaven has been left behind in the plowing race and has assigned 36 “block captains” covering 59 blocks to report unplowed or dangerous conditions to the Department of Sanitation.
“In the wake of our most recent snowstorm, Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed that the city had proven that it had learned its lesson. City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria obviously agreed, saying ‘I would give them an A for preparation, snow removal, and communication.’”
Additionally, The New York Times said that the Mayor’s image was reborn, calling it "one of the most dramatic reversals of fortune in the annals of modern politics,” said Wendell. “If 16 unplowed roads 36 hours after the storm ends is an ‘A’ then we must be grading on one heck of a curve.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently outlined state preparations and urged precautions for more anticipated snow and ice. For more information on how individuals can be better prepared for emergencies and for winter safety tips, visit: www.semo.state.ny.us. Motorists who need to check conditions can access winter weather travel updates at www.nysdot.gov/wta. Real-time travel reports can also be accessed by phone by dialing 5-1-1 or online at www.511ny.org.