NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Earlier fears of an epic blizzard quickly turned to fury Tuesday, as businesses lost half a billion dollars in New York City alone because of the massive shutdown.
As CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported, the streets of Manhattan were clear as of late Tuesday afternoon, and the snow was not falling anymore in the city. But dozens of businesses in Chelsea alone were still shut down.
A similar scene could be found all around the city, with thousands of businesses having decided to remain closed until Wednesday. The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce estimated at least $500 million in lost revenue.
“It’s empty. The barbershop is empty,” said Maya Mosheyeva of Robert’s Barbershop, at 180 Seventh Ave. and 21st Street. “We’re here.”
The empty seats were hard to miss at the barbershop. Only two customers had shown up all day as of late Tuesday afternoon, compared to 50 on a typical Tuesday.
“I’m mad, because we don’t make money,” Mosheyeva said.
A few doors down at Le Zie, a Venetian trattoria a few doors down at 172 Seventh Ave., the owner opened four hours late on Tuesday. By 3 p.m., he had seen now customers at all.
And all that was after closing early on Monday night, after Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered everyone off the streets.
“Business-wise, I don’t think that was a great decision,” said Le Zie owner Claudio Bonotto.
Meanwhile, Bonotto’s workers could not get to the trattoria because of limited train and bus schedules.
Many businesses still had to pay absent employees depending on their policy, and many took a sick day to get a paycheck. All that represented yet another cost for businesses on a day that money was not coming in.
“At the end of the month, you know, payroll and staff is still due,” Bonotto said.
And because the city emptied out, cab drivers felt the pain too.
One cabbie said he had picked up only about five passengers in a period of about two hours, which he called “slow” compared to a normal day.
But even though some of these businesses took a big hit, some of them told CBS2 the situation could have been much worse, because the storm had the potential to paralyze the city for several days.
“Good for the safety of the people,” Bonotto said.
But now, the business operators have to find creative ways to make up for what they lost.
And some businesses actually benefited from the storm predictions, when tens of thousands rushed to the grocery and hardware stores to stock up on essentials.
A National Weather Service meteorologist has apologized for the forecast after the Blizzard of 2015’s impact was far less than expected for New York City and most of the rest of the Tri-State Area.
Gary Szatkowski, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s office in Mt. Holly, N.J. took to Twitter to make his apology.
“My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public,” Szatkowski tweeted. “You made a lot of tough decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn’t. Once again, I’m sorry.”
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the decision to implement a travel ban based on the forecast, while also discussing the impact of the decision.
“We had a storm several weeks ago where I believed the forecast was for a relatively modest amount of snow and we then had seven feet of snow in Buffalo,” Cuomo said. “And we didn’t close roads etcetera because we weren’t anticipating seven feet of snow. I made a comment that the weather forecast was not 100 percent accurate, which offended weather forecasters all across the country. And I was roundly berated for days for criticizing the weather forecast. So on the theory of live and learn, and a little wiser, weather forecasters do the best they can and we respond to the best information we have.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also said all the precautions were a “no-brainer” based on the forecast.
“For several days, reports talked about 2 feet or more of snow. Again that would instantly put us into one of the top snowstorms in the history of the city,” de Blasio said.