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NYC Woman: Better Storm Prep Could Have Saved My Mom

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Yvonne Freeman, 75, died during Sunday's snowstorm. She passed away during the three hours it took emergency personnel to reach her home.

Yvonne Freeman, 75, died during Sunday’s snowstorm. She passed away during the three hours it took emergency personnel to reach her home.

Katherine-Brown-thumbnail Kathryn Brown
Emmy Award-winning reporter Kathryn Brown joined CBS 2 in June 2008....
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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.

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