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Bloomberg On Blizzard: ‘We Dodged A Bullet’

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg discusses efforts to fight the blizzard Saturday morning. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Saturday morning that while New York City fared better than many areas in the blizzard overnight, precautions are still necessary as many areas were under a foot of snow.

“I think it’s fair to say that we were very lucky,” Bloomberg said. “The storm certainly brought plenty of snow – about a foot in a lot of areas in New York City – but we certainly avoided the worst of it.”

Bloomberg said the city is willing to send out any assistance to areas that were hit harder, such as eastern Long Island – which accumulated more than 30 inches of snow in some areas.

City crews have also worked their hardest to ensure that roads are kept clear, Bloomberg said. Sanitation crews were out all night, and will work all day to clean the streets, he said.

As of the 8 a.m. hour, roughly 2,200 pieces of equipment were out spreading salt. Virtually all primary streets were plowed – all of which will be done by the end of the day, Bloomberg said.

Plowing of main roads was virtually complete by that point, secondary roads were largely done, and tertiary roads were also 60 percent done – due in part to outside contractors who were brought in, city officials said.

New Yorkers can go to “Plow New York” at NYC.gov to see the time period in which their streets were plowed.

But Bloomberg advised motorists to stay off the roads and make it easier for plow operators.

The city also has dispatched about 150 tow trucks – even though only about half a dozen cars had to be towed during the entire night, Bloomberg said.

On the Upper West Side, a worker who had just gotten off the overnight shift came out to his car on West End Avenue to find it completely buried by a plow.

“Absolutely covered in snow. I had to go across the street and get help from someone who had a shovel,” the man told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

The man, donning a bright green Philadelphia Eagles jacket, got help from Javier, a die-hard Giants fan.

“I showed a little compassion this morning and just showed New York love,” Javier told Sandberg.

All along the Upper West Side, drivers woke up to find their cars in snowbanks.

A cab driver needed a tow truck to come to his rescue and drag his car out of a plowed-in spot on Broadway. He told Sandberg he tried to dig out his car and may have caused more damage.

“My tire’s flat,” the cabbie told Sandberg.

Meanwhile, the NYPD has been out checking on families who still have no heat after Superstorm Sandy last fall. Bloomberg advised anyone who is cold and shivering to call 911 and get crews out quickly.

Watch Mayor Bloomberg’s Morning News Conference

The Fire Department has been keeping an extra firefighter in every engine, and two extra ambulances in each borough for the day.

Refuse and recycling pickups were canceled for the day Saturday, as sanitation crews’ first job is to clean streets. Alternate side and meter rules are also suspended.

The pressure was on the Bloomberg administration to respond swiftly to the blizzard, particularly after major complaints about the city’s response to the Christmas blizzard of 2010.

The Dec. 26-27, 2010 storm packed a wallop in the Northeast, dropping more than 2 feet of snow in some parts of the city. Streets went unplowed for days, and cars, buses and other vehicles were stranded.

Mayor Bloomberg‘s administration was roundly criticized for its handling of the foul weather and its aftermath. Some critics even called him “Mayor Michael Bilandic Bloomberg” – a reference to former Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic, whose infamously poor response to a blizzard in 1979 cost him his bid for reelection a few months later.

But Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said a lot has changed since the 2011 blizzard.

“We were looking from the get-go to be ready for the worst storm,” Doherty said.

He told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola that this time, the city had 193 special plows shaped like a V, which work better in deep snow.

“For these narrow streets, you need a big plow to get in there. The straight blade gets jammed up on you. You can’t move. The truck starts to slide,” Doherty explained.

The city did not end up needing the special plows. But the department did use its new GPS system on the snow plows, New Yorkers themselves got off the streets, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was prepared.

“The Transit Authority pulled their buses out early, and they had chains on them,” Doherty said.

He added that there were 200 more sanitation workers on duty for this blizzard than in 2010.

The highest snow total for New York City was 15 inches in the Bronx. Central Park saw 11.4 inches.

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