Bloomberg: New Yorkers Also To Blame For Blizzard Mess

NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) — Even as Mayor Bloomberg now admits the city could have done better in response to the winter white-out brought on by a post-Christmas blizzard, he’s not taking all the blame.

New Yorkers are at fault, also, he said.

Under fire for what some perceived as the city’s sluggish response to the blizzard that dropped 20 inches of snow on the city and surrounding area, Bloomberg on Wednesday deflected some of the criticism.

“We asked the public to do two things,” Bloomberg said. “Don’t call 911 unless it was a serious emergency … And don’t drive.

“Unfortunately, too many people didn’t listen.”

PHOTO GALLERIES: Blizzard Slams East Coast | User-Submitted Pictures

City sanitation commissioner John Doherty had promised that every street would be plowed by Thursday morning. At 7 a.m., NBC’s “Today” show broadcast live from a block in Brooklyn that remained unplowed, with parked cars still covered in snow.

New York City operators fielded 49,478 calls to 911 on Monday, the day after the storm. That total was the sixth highest in any day since the city began keeping statistics. There were 38,000 calls on Tuesday. Some of the calls came from the same location, but it’s not clear how many.

Many of the calls were not for emergencies, and plows couldn’t clear the way for ambulances because streets were clogged with abandoned vehicles.

“Your car stuck in the middle of the road made things worse,” Bloomberg said.

The department is investigating some calls about streets that people say weren’t covered, said spokesman Keith Mellis.

In some cases, it could be that drivers who dug out their cars left behind mounds of snow and then “it looks like the street hasn’t been plowed at all,” he said.

Not all the streets are completely clear but they were passable, Mellis said, adding that sanitation crews would continue to plow throughout the day and put snow melters around the city to clear the towering piles of snow created by the plows.

In some instances, it took hours to respond to requests for help.

The FDNY said additional ambulances were on the road and extra firefighters were working, but it wasn’t enough to handle the call load, which was backlogged by 1,300 at one point.

Among the calls was a Brooklyn woman who called 911 several times on Monday to report she was in labor. She delivered a baby that was unconscious and later pronounced dead.

Initially, dispatchers assigned the call a low priority because the expectant mother hadn’t reported that either she or the baby were in distress, and her delivery was not believed to be imminent. Dispatchers called back several times to check in on the woman, and when a call came in that the newborn was unconscious, the priority was upgraded and EMS workers responded 12 minutes later. The infant was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner will determine a cause of death.

On Wednesday, as stories began to surface about people who may have suffered serious medical problems while waiting for ambulances, the mayor was his most apologetic, without actually apologizing.

“We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do or as the city has a right to expect, and there’s no question — we are an administration that has been built on accountability,” he said. “When it works, it works and we take credit, and when it doesn’t work, we stand up there and say, `OK, we did it. We’ll try to find out what went wrong.”‘

The fire department trains firefighters and emergency medical services workers on driving in all types of weather. Firefighters put shovels and salt aboard engines to help clear roads and snow chains to plow through snowy streets.

But ambulances can’t be outfitted with snow chains because it would damage the vehicles. Plus, ambulance drivers are trained to try to get as close to the emergency as possible, because they carry heavy gear — and sometimes heavy patients.

Most of the calls with long wait times were not emergencies. The FDNY ranks emergencies and responds based on need, so a lesser emergency would be shelved until there was time to respond.

Bloomberg already has directed Skip Funk, the new citywide director of emergency communications, to look at why the communications and dispatching system failed.

“I’m extremely dissatisfied with the way our emergency response systems performed,” he said Wednesday during a news conference in the Bronx.

He said he was especially disturbed by reports that ambulances had gotten stuck trying to drive through deep snow.

“Could we do a better job? We’re going to try and find out. Could our ambulances have taken different routes? We’re looking at that. Perhaps they could have stayed further away and walked to the places rather than try and get down the secondary roads.”

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Brendan

    Bloomberg, you are an arrogant POS! Word to the Mother!

  • Schmellma Arss

    Hey look! It’s a bird!! It’s a plane!!! No!!!! It’s a blizzard blowing out of Bloomberg butt!!!

    • andy warhol

      lol the guy is a moron. how did he make so much money? did he rip someone off?

  • christine

    what the hell does 911 have anything to do with what a horrible job the plows did??
    so mr mayor, please stop changing your answers on what the hell happened and face reality…sanitation messed up BIG TIME!!!

  • ezflyer13

    Easy to blame the public than to have a plan in place and follow through with it. What is the excuse for the streets that have not been plowed as of now where the cars are paralyzed and were not driven? If a person calls 911, I guess that they did so because it was an emergency or did the mayor all of a sudden decide to change the definition of that as well?

  • Henry

    Hey Mr. Bloomberg, one thing is for certain. You will be remembered as the worst MAYOR this City has had!!! Do us all a favor and resign. You say your salary is $1.00 a year . I’l give you $20.00 bucks just LEAVE!!!!!

  • Kate

    What IS a “Skip Funk”?? Were his parents really cruel enough to name a child “Skip”? Or is he still using an infant nickname??? Scary either way! Google turned up a rock band and a speech of Mr. Bloomberg’s saying that he’d recently hired Mr. Funk from Chicago. So Mr. Funk’s first crisis is this blizzard mis-management. NOT promising!!!

    • Kate

      Correction: Glen “Skip” Funk is a retired naval officer (rank? length of service? specialty?) who work for Chicago’s OEM from 1998-1999 — yes, for 1 year almost 12 years ago. So he was already old enough to retire from the Navy in 1998. This is what Mr. Bloomberg considers up-to-date experience! Since then he has worked for assorted private companies.

      It’s no wonder Mr. Skip Funk failed to deal with the blizzard!

  • Donnatella Soleil

    Guiliani would have had the streets nice and clean by now…

  • Alphonse

    Ofcourse its the people of New York to be blamed . For voting him to another 4 years term.

    • Steven Bialek

      You are so correct!!! You voted for him you got him.
      (I’m still trying to figure out the NYC payroll scam…you hired these people to save the city money yet they embezzled 80 million from the city? AND now your making budget cuts?) Anyway…… Happy New Year to all and lets hope its not ‘Gloom and doom in NYC for 2011’

  • Delilah

    Maybe he is in tune, after all starting July we will be paying the fire dept to show up at accidents when we as taxpayers already pay their salaries. Maybe we will have to pay the Sanitation Dept next to plow our streets when our tax money already pays their salaries. I live in Queens near St John’s College the plows have been living on my block 2 at a time, the street is very clear for the past two days, but they just like to come by and close off the driveways that the elderly dig out from day to day.

  • Rich Scorce

    Yeah NYers are to blame for this mess. Those NYers who voted for this ass clown after he conveniently voided term limits and bought another term.

  • Jimmy

    Watch how fast you’ll get a ticket from the Sanitation Dept if you don’t clean your sidewalk.

  • Richard T.

    If the city had declared a snow emergency as they have always done in the past, the main roads would have been open so that all of the emergency vehicles would have been able to get through. We can only thank our lucky stars that we hadn’t a large number of fires which are so common this time of year. Our Mr. Bloomberg needs to STOP blaing New Yorkers for his own insufficiencies and poor judgement calls. At least we won’t have to worry about another Bllomie administration. I say we start a petition to impeach him and bring back Mayor Giugliani, one mayor who was not an elitist; Rudy was ALWAYS for the common folk like you and I!

  • richard

    Bllomberg can raise da mta fare but cant clear nyc streets smhhh.!

  • paul

    West 7 street Gravesend, Brooklyn still have not been plow!

  • Idratherbegolfing

    I agree with Mayor Mike. The people of NYC need to take some blame as well. A picture on the news showed an unplowed street with 2 cars stuck in the middle of it. Is it the City’s fault 2 idiots got their cars stuck and now a plow can’t get down the road. Is it the city’s fault that after they plow a road the morons throw all the snow back in the street when they dig their cars out? I would guess 90% of the calls that came into 911 were for non emergencies. Unfortunately the people who were really in need suffered because of the selfishness and laziness of others. Sure the city could have done things better but we did get 2+ feet of snow. It was not like we only got 6”.

    • Kate

      Really?? You “guess” 90% of the 911 calls were unnecessary? On what basis? You appear to be, like Mr. Bloomberg, an expert on blaming others.

      Although Mr. Giuliani was a total embarassment, in 1996 he had city workers clear 20″ of snow within 2 days, without any deaths. He declkared an emergency, which adequately warned people, and ensured the intelligent cooperation of citizens and sanitation staff.

  • keith

    Hey mike! I wished on your way to the bermuda, the triangle swallow u

  • Time for Change

    $1 per year salary – what do you expect the lazy piece of SH## to do LOL

    He cant even accept blame for his own failure – What a loser – its easy to point the finger – Step Down BLOOMBERG

    We the TAX PAYING people need to FORCE change – it is time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Glenn

      Has the Mayor at least apologized for his botched response to the blizzard? I think not.

  • LOL over this

    Sorry I forgot to ask whats a secondary road? We have secondary roads? “Perhaps they could have stayed further away and walked to the places?” Hmm This man has no idea what FDNY EMS does. Maybe the firefighters could have stayed further away and walked to the places carrying buckets of water to extinguish fires. But the truly important question here is, Is Skip Funk, the new citywide director of emergency communications, real name?. If it is, does he prefer people to call him call him Skippy ? or …

  • Vin

    NY Post. Front page. ‘Nuf said.

  • Pete

    This is what you get from Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s 3rd term in office. Where was he for the blizzards of February 2006 and February 2010? Maybe he went to Walt Disney World. After they clean the snow are going to hold inquiries what went wrong. Good luck with that. You won’t get 100% truth from any public officials because they are all liars. All New Yorker’s from the 5 boros are going to celebrate when Mayor Mike Bloomberg leaves office.

  • nyphonejacks

    blaming people for driving? i am sure that there may have been a small percentage of those drivers out there who had no real need to be driving, but many of us were doing our job – delivering products, or doing service calls to keep this city running – if the streets were plowed the way that they should have been there would not have been the amount of stuck cars – sounded to me like there was quite a lot of stuck ambulances and buses as well as commercial and passenger vehicles, so stop trying to pass blame and do your job… as a matter of fact just step down as mayor… YOU should be the one fired over this…

    • Kate

      You’re quite right. Very few New Yorkers own cars, and many car-owners are doctors, businessmen, etc., who are the only people desperate enough to attempt driving in that weather!!!

  • LOL over this

    Boy what an egg you laid this time… Saying that it was New Yorker’s fault for delays in EMS response to emergencies. Your Public Relations team must be squirming in their pants and thinking you just committed political suicide. But look on the bright side. its not your fault because, of course, you are the Mayor and I believe the ambulance drivers could have taken another route to get to the patients, maybe by way of Florida. Did it snow in Florida?

  • The Good Samaritan

    How is the complete fault of the residents of NYC Mayor Bloomberg? what an idiot.

    a call to 911 for someing having asthma is a serious call. The mayor is dense.

    I will say no one should have been on the roads in the blizzard.

    The Good Samaritan

    • Michael H.

      Reading comprehension fail. He did not, in any way, shape or form, say that it is the “complete fault of the residents of NYC”. He said that residents share blame. Any idiot that was out on the roads during this storm definitely deserves a small portion of the blame. but let’s get one thing straight, the Mayor ignored the experts and we suffered because of it. If he had declared this as a Snow Emergency we would not have been stuck in nearly as big a mess as we are right now.

  • Ernest

    I couldn’t go to a Broadway show Mr. Bloomberg, I had to pay a near 10% increase on my weekly Metro Card! Mr. Bloomberg does your personal helicopter take Metro Cards?

    • Kate

      That WAS a remarkably silly remark he made! He was the twiddlepoop urging citizens to get into cars and drive from “the outer boroughs” to Broadway shows — at approximately $ 150 per ticket too! I live 14 miles from 42nd Street, on an elevated subway line where the open tracks clogged with snow in the blizzard, and switches froze.

  • Roger

    where is the “like” buttown

  • arn

    Hope all you jerks who voted for this clown 3 times are happy now

  • life is good

    F.D.N.Y. requested that the city bring in the National Guard and the city claimed the Guard is not equipped to assist. Not only is their equipment and added personnel useful in such a situation, they have been used previously in such situations. Their military ambulances, 4×4’s & 6×6 vehicles should have been paired with F.D.N.Y. Engines & Ambulances. They could carry EMS & firefighting tools as well as the EMT’s & Firefighters to get them close to the scene as well as to evacuate patients to the ambulances. The mayor also should have allowed F.D.N.Y. to recall a sufficient # of off duty personnel to staff all of it’s reserve fleet of fully equipped fire apparatus to enhance availability and provide as rapid a response as possible to emergencies. F.D.N.Y. is a public safety agency that’s in the business of saving lives. Unfortunately the Mayor and his top staff tend to ignore their expertise & look at the department as a place to cut resources. The Mayor’s #1 job is public safety. He just ignores that fact.

  • Ice

    This Mayor is unbelievable! He can’t even apologize and be sincere! He comes down off his THRONE which he BOUGHT…and then has the balls to pass blame onto NY’ers?? I can not WAIT until this man is out of office! The only remaining problem is all the damn cronies that he put in office as favors! The next Mayor should clean house and remove each and every one of the Bloomberg crew!

    • Roger

      Beware of a man who would spend $5 million and only take $1 a year in pay

  • Wolf

    The Mayor should have called a “Snow Emergency” on Sunday morning. BLIZZARD WARNING means BIG BAD storm. The cars would have been off the road by Sunday afternoon, and the streets would have been cleared. Us taxpayers do NOT get paid when we cannot get to work. We are not politicians, we are voters. Give us all a tax credit for at least a day’s pay.It cost us money, it should cost you as well.

    • Rich Scorce

      they used to call snow emergencies with 6 inches on the ground or even before the snow started falling.

  • keith

    Main ARTERY should be the streets that hard working ny’er live on, ny’er that makes the city run. broadway and fifth avenue should be secondary. Big city streets are nothing if they’re empty!!!! gei it MORON!!!! broadway and fifth is nothing if ticket sellers couldn’t get to work, if restaurants and stores are close because chefs, waiter, delivery boy couldn’t get to work.



  • keith

    This idiot told us to go to a broadway show and stop the finger pointing!! Now he’s blaming us. We’re just trying to get to work to make ends meet. We need a mayor who’s more intune with the city. He doesn’t deserve a third term, he doesn’t have the personality, defintely doesn’t have the sensitivity ( people died during these times ) and he definitely doesn’t have the charisma to run this city. He’s made NYC into a joke!! And now he’s HIKING Mta fair, maybe BLOOMBERG should be the one taking the HIKE, straight to the bermudas and don’t come back. YOU”RE A FAILURE MIKE!!!!! TOTAL FAILURE!!!!!!!!

    • Rich Scorce

      Hope that the story about Bama giving the Emperor a cabinet post is true. We finally will be rid of this clown before he buys himself a 4th term. How many of you people who voted for him and gave him the slight margin he had to BUY his 3rd term are now getting the snow plow shaft from him?

  • kc

    It’s good to be the King. He cares as much as he has too and not an ounce more.

  • Paul Kohloff

    Its amazing that if your parked illegally they’ll tow your car in a heart beat but now .tow truck drivers don’t work in the snow?

    • Rich Scorce

      got that right paul

  • edy

    This midget’s a piece of work. Cars blocked the streets becuase they weren’t plowed.

  • CSI

    I would have to agree on one thing though. These people had to be stupid to try to take their car out to drive.

    • WININE


  • Fred

    We had to get to work so we could earn enough $ to pay our NYC taxes.

    • steve M.

      see CSI’s comment

      • jerry

        peoples expectations are out of whack/just experienced the worst storm in nyc history that happened the day after christmas during a recession – the mayor is far from perfect but better than most – start acting like adults and not whimps – it about more than just you

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