NEW YORK (CBS 2/ 1010 WINS/ WCBS 880) — The storm destroyed the Thursday evening plans of thousands of commuters.
They hit the road — only to hit the brakes. Did the city fail to help drivers navigate the mess?
CBS 2’s Tony Aiello asked the mayor on Friday.
The National Weather Service confirmed Friday that two tornadoes and a microburst struck the New York City area on Thursday evening.
The weaker of the two, with gusts up to 80 miles per hour, was in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The other tornado touched down about two miles south of Flushing, Queens, north of Bayside with winds of 100 miles per hour.
But most of the damage in Queens was caused by a microburst. It packed winds of 125 mph, hitting Middle Village and Forest Hills.
The NWS said the microburst was a mile wide.
The storm lasted minutes. The commute lasted hours.
“I got home after midnight, very bad, very bad,” one commuter said.
As drivers headed to Queens and points east they quickly found they were going nowhere fast — with no one directing them through the mess.
“It took me four hours to get home!” one person said.
“I saw a lot of fire engines and cops, but no direction of traffic, no one out there directing, not at all, it was horrible,” said Long Island resident Rich Slattery.
“They should have directed the traffic to the side street instead of the main one that was about three hours clogged,” added Lionel Lamar of Baldwin.
“I’d call it a screw-up, yeah!” another driver said.
“Screw up.” That’s an interesting way of putting it. Where else did we hear that this week?
“That is a royal screw-up and it is completely unacceptable,” Mayor Mike Bloomberg said on Tuesday, as he slammed the Board of Elections for voting machine glitches.
But on Friday he saw no screw up by the city from Thursday night’s traffic mess.
“The problem wasn’t directing traffic. The problem was the trees were down and the power lines were down. I think the city did everything it could. You can’t have somebody every place and when a tree comes down, you can’t go down that street,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor said with the shutdown of the Long Island Rail Road forcing many commuters into cars, a fatal accident on the Grand Central Parkway and hundreds of fallen trees littering the streets, just be glad you got home alive.
“I got home, didn’t get hit by a tree, didn’t die, so I’m happy,” one woman said.
But others are convinced the NYPD did a pretty bad job. When they really needed a traffic cop, they couldn’t find one.
Even the mayor was no match for Mother Nature. He got stuck in storm traffic and missed an appointment to give a speech.