NYC Woman: Better Storm Prep Could Have Saved My Mom

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A woman in Queens has a special message for Mayor Michael Bloomberg – one of outrage. She said the city is to blame for her mother’s death during the snowstorm, and she wants a personal apology.

Three days after the storm, the street in front of Laura Freeman’s home was still barely passable.

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In the middle of the storm, it took EMS workers three hours to get there. The system was backlogged, and when they finally arrived, they couldn’t park on the street and had to drag emergency equipment several blocks. It was all too late for Freeman’s mother, reports CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.

“She’s just going, ‘ugh, ugh, I can’t breathe,’” Freeman said. “I’m going to cry, because that’s all I keep seeing.”

Monday’s snowstorm turned into a living nightmare for Freeman, whose 75-year-old mother began having breathing problems at 8 a.m.

“I’m dialing 911, and there’s no 911, that’s all I know how to say,” she said.

She said her calls went unanswered for nearly an hour. All the while, she watched her mother, Yvonne Freeman, desperately gasping for breath.

When the ambulance did arrive nearly three hours later, Freeman’s mother was dead, leaving her heartbroken, furious and blaming the mayor for taking the storm too lightly.

“‘Take in a Broadway show, go to Rockefeller Center,’” she said. “Oh, it’s going to be New Year’s Eve and you want to see the ball drop. Is that why it’s so clean [in Times Square]? And we’re still a mess? It looks like a disaster out there.”

At the height of the storm, there was a backlog of 1,400 emergency calls citywide. The rash of calls resulted in a three-hour wait to get an ambulance for critical calls, and 120 ambulances ended up stuck in the snow.

Freeman said better storm management could have saved her mother’s life, and at the very least she wants an apology – rather than an excuse – from the mayor.

What does she want to hear from the mayor?

“I can’t say the words, because you can’t air that,” she said. “I [expletive] up.”

On Wednesday, during the mayor’s latest update, she got something of a combination.

“I’m extremely dissatisfied with the way our emergency system performed,” Bloomberg said. “My heart does really go out to those who experienced trauma and tragedy during the storm.”

“I would like an apology, but I’ll never get that from the mayor. He never does things like that,” Freeman said.

Laura Freeman plans to bury her mother on Friday, New Year’s Eve, which is the same day that Mayor Bloomberg will drop the ball in Times Square. She said it will be the second ball he’s dropped this week.

  • The Good Samaritan

    You getter faster response from 911 when you call up to complain about an order of chicken mcnuggets.

  • bt

    Are you kidding me? If my mom were lying there and there was an ambulance sitting at the end of the block, I would have gotten a friend, neighbor, sibling or someone else to help me carry her the hell out of the house to the street. While it’s true the city’s response is pathetic, when it’s a matter of life or death for a loved one, maybe you have to do some extra-ordinary things.

  • rod

    The city is responsible. Blocks in our neighborhood still haven’t seen a sanitation truck. It’s already Thursday 1:23am.

  • James

    What nonsense – “in the ’50’s snowplows didn’t exist.” They’ve been around since the 1920’s. Whether it was a Department of Sanitation slowdown or a lack of coordination by the Mayor, either way the fault falls to him. In 1996, Giuliani dealt with a simliar storm, also on a Sunday. By that Monday night, things were running smoothly all over. The difference is Bloomberg is the imperial Mayor of Manhattan – his only concern is that Times Square looks good when he drops the Ball on New Year’s Eve. But he’s already dropped the ball, and his dream of leaving a great legacy is severely diminished. His arrogance over the last few days will leave him forever tarnished.

  • Jay

    Sorry for her loss, but you can’t blame the Mayor or the City, that’s ridiculous. Blame bad timing for her mom’s situation and Mother Nature. There are thousands of streets in every burough in NY. No way can snow plows be immediatley on each one, it is impossible, especially when the snow comes down fast and thick. it’s winter, this is what it does. I was raised in the 50’s and snow plows didn’t exist, we were responsible for clearing our own blocks. People today are lazy and want everything done for them, personal responsiblity fits in there somewhere.

    • The Good Samaritan

      The city is to blame are you insane. There is no excuse for EMS not showing up. Common sense you drive to the end of the block and walk thru the snow with the oxygen equipment.

      The Good Samaritan has spoken.

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