Blizzard Cleanup Report and Hearings

Blizzard Cleanup Report and Hearings

Tomorrow morning, the City Council will be holding its first hearing to examine why the City's cleanup efforts after the December 26th blizzard were so much worse than in past storms, and what must be done to address these failures going forward. If you are interested, you can watch the hearing live.

In addition to tomorrow's hearing near City Hall, the Council will be holding community-based hearings in each borough, to hear directly about the problems you faced during the storm. The Brooklyn hearing will take place on Wednesday, January 19th, at 6 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall. More information on the hearings can be found here.

In advance of these hearings, my office as compiled a "39th District Blizzard Cleanup Report" that examines the response in the neighborhoods of the 39th District (Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, and Borough Park).

The report is based on the nearly 400 complaints we received from you in the week following the storm – including those whose streets remained uncleared for more than 5 days after the storm – as well as on-the-ground observations by my office, dozens of follow-up conversations (with residents, key institutions, sanitation workers, and others), and a summary of available news reports.

The City Council hearings and follow-up investigations will examine many key questions, such as why a "snow emergency" was not declared, what the chain-of-command was at key decision-points, and what the impact of staffing reductions and equipment changes was in this cleanup.

Our local report will hopefully help to shine a light on issues that arose specifically in our communities, including:

  • The response of DSNY Brooklyn District 12 (Kensington, Borough Park) was much slower than District 6 (Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope) or District 7 (Windsor Terrace).
  • Inadequate technology meant that Sanitation did not know when a block has been plowed, and which streets remained uncleared.
  • Lack of coordination between tow and plow operations severely hobbled the cleanup, and left many blocks unplowed.
  • The City’s 911/EMS systems were overwhelmed, which delayed emergency response in many cases, including in one possibly-preventable death in Kensington.
  • The City’s response failed to prioritize of the removal of snow around hospitals and subway entrances.

If you are interested, I hope you will take a look at the report and let me know if you have other thoughts. 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. Please email me your thoughts to lander [at] council [dot] nyc [dot] gov or call my office at 718-499-1090.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the only highlights of the storm aftermath, which was the heroic citizen response. During the week following the storm, as the inadequate City response left many people stranded, countless volunteers aided their neighbors in ways large and small, whether by shoveling sidewalks for a neighbor, or by contributing to the volunteer emergency response. Our district never fails to step up in a time of emergency, and I want to thank everyone for the work that you did to help our community.



39th District Blizzard Cleanup Report

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