NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Several city agencies faced the city council on Thursday to answer for their shortcomings after an unseasonably cold and snowy day crippled New York two weeks ago.
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson (D-16th) called it a “nightmare” and a “hot mess.”
Councilmember after councilmember described the November 15th storm as a failure. Some re-apologized to New Yorkers, but Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia stopped short of that.
“I am reluctant to phrase it in that direct way because of the challenges of trying to apologize for a storm and for traffic,” she said.
The city was thrown into turmoil, with a pileup on the George Washington Bridge blamed for much of the gridlock nearby.
As Council Speaker Corey Johnson pointed out, problems plagued the entire city. Children were stuck on city buses for hours, as were other drivers. Even sanitation workers were stuck for hours.
“There are some people who ended up getting stuck and not moving for more than 12 hours and it was a large percentage of the vehicles,” Garcia said.
According to the Department of Sanitation, about $3.7 million in overtime was spent the day before, day of, and day after the storm.
So how did that overtime work for the workers who themselves were stuck for hours?
“Everyone got the 12 hours on the 6 a.m. shift, and on the 4 p.m. shift if for some reason they couldn’t get back to the department by 6 p.m. or 4 a.m., then they would’ve been paid for any hours they were unable to get back to depot,” Garcia.
Trees were also down all over, which the Parks Department says is because they still had leaves on them. They’re now assessing high-risk trees and have a pruning process in place. They also rely heavily on calls from the public.
As for other lessons learned, the agencies are looking into police escorts for plows and a full storm response even when only two inches of snow is in the forecast. The Department of Education is also working to fast track getting GPS trackers on school buses to better communicate with parents.
An internal review and other reports on what happened are due soon.