Local pols fume over city’s response to blizzard in Queens

A snow-covered 92nd Street in East Elmhurst.
Photo via Twitter/@SenatorPeralta

The second-largest snowstorm in the city’s history dumped the most snow on Queens than on any other borough, but the “World’s Borough” seems to have received the least attention from the Department of Sanitation.

Elected officials across the borough have been flooded by calls and social media posts from constituents complaining about unplowed streets and dangerous conditions. In a press conference on Sunday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted that he was not happy with the snow removal response in Queens, especially western Queens neighborhoods such as Ridgewood, East Elmhurst, Sunnyside, Woodside and Jackson Heights.

State Senator Jose Peralta, who covers Jackson Heights, the neighborhood hardest hit with 34 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service, took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction, posting pictures of several streets in Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst that still have not been plowed.

“We were clearly left behind by the administration, and this is very frustrating,” Peralta said. “The city’s street plowing response to the record-breaking blizzard was poor in Queens, and this is unacceptable. Unfortunately, our borough, which is the city’s biggest, again got the short end of the stick.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo said he felt “extremely frustrated with the lack of a quick and appropriate storm response seen in Queens,” especially in neighborhoods such as Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

“Everyday activities remain at a standstill while communities wait to be unburied from more than two feet of snow, yet Mayor de Blasio failed to see how dangerous it is to have our children attend school on Monday,” Addabbo said in a statement.

De Blasio announced on Sunday that schools would open Monday, which left many politicians angered.

“NYC Schools in Queens should be closed tomorrow,” Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Howard Beach, wrote on Twitter. “People’s cars are still buried in snow & the streets are still a mess!”

Councilman Rory Lancman, who represents Jamaica, Kew Gardens and Fresh Meadows, questioned the city’s PlowNYC website, which allows residents to track the progress of the Sanitation Department’s snow removal process.

“It’s completely unacceptable that in 2016 Queens was forgotten in a snowstorm yet again,” Lancman said. “It’s particularly distressing to drive around my district and see street after street that hasn’t been touched, even though the snow plow tracker indicates they were cleared, making me wonder if City Hall is even operating with accurate information.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who represents six neighborhoods including Ridgewood and Woodhaven, said the lack of snow removal is “an issue of public safety.”

“Winter Storm Jonas left significant and historic snowfall that the administration was not prepared for,” Crowley said. “Much of my district is comprised one- to two-family homes and rely on our city to heed its responsibilities and clear the roads of any snow fall, yet days after the storm I continue to hear of homebound residents stuck behind two feet of snow.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Astoria, took a tour with Mayor Bill de Blasio in Woodside on Monday morning to point out problem areas.

“It is obvious to me that our neighborhoods need more resources to get every residential street, sidewalk and bus shelter cleared,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “My office will continue monitoring neighborhoods throughout the district and advocating on behalf of my constituents to make sure conditions are safe for commuters, students and seniors.”

In a Monday morning press conference, de Blasio again referenced several Queens neighborhoods that he thinks need more work, especially along tertiary roads.

“I didn’t see the kind of results I wanted in Sunnyside, Woodside, Elmhurst, Corona,” he said.

Sanitation Department Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said the borough is “our first priority today.”

De Blasio said the plows will pay visits to these neighborhoods today and that alternate side parking will be suspended until Saturday.