City sanitation were working through the night to clear the streets for Monday, after a significant snowstorm forced public schools to declare a snow day Monday, their first since 2004. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report. See our viewer image gallery
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The plows were out early and often Monday, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted everyone to know that.
By the afternoon, he said 2,000 sanitation workers were doing what they could to clear the city's 6,000 miles of streets.
"As you know, New York City has nearly 6,000 miles of streets," said the mayor. "So to plow all our streets, just think about this, it's like plowing form here to Los Angeles, and back. It is really quite an amazing job that the sanitation workers have to do and that they do do."
And it wasn't just the city's sanitation department working overtime. At 311, operators handled 140,000 calls by 11:30 a.m. In an election year, snow cleanup is something a politician doesn't want to mess up.
Snow storms can sometimes turn political. In 1969, then-mayor John Lindsay found that out the hard way when it took the city days to plow the streets.
The February snowstorm may have contributed to Lindsay's losing the Republican primary that year, though he later won reelection as a Liberal and an Independent. Mayor Bloomberg, coincidentally in Queens, which saw some of the heaviest snow, said he wasn't thinking about politics.
"For seven years, we've been clearing the streets everytime there's a snow storm, whether it was an election year or not," remarked Bloomberg.
But that snowstorm of 40 years ago wasn't far from the mind of the city's sanitation chief, John Doherty.
"I spent some time in Queens north. As some will remember, in 1969, it was a very sensitive area for the mayor at the time. The area looks good," said Doherty.
Still, there were some complaints, mainly because of a decision that usually leaves everyone happy. For the first time since 2004, city public school kids had a snow day, but some students and teachers said they weren't given enough notice and ended up going to school thinking classes were still on.
"I think if you got up this morning and looked outside and the question didn't come to you right away, hmmm, I wonder if school is going to be open today and you didn't know enough to call 311, I would suggest another day in school is probably a good idea," said Bloomberg.
The announcement was made before 6 a.m., and the mayor said it was one of the first things callers heard when they dialed 311.
Earlier in the day, cancellations and delays were reported at area airports as crews worked to clear the runways.
According to the Port Authority, 453 flights were cancelled at LaGuardia, 119 flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and 335 flights at Newark Liberty International Airport.
As of 10 p.m. both LaGuardia and JFK airports reported no delays and are said to be back on a normal schedule.
Due to the icy conditions, Newark International Airport says a Traffic Management Program is in effect, causing some flights to still be delayed.
Passengers are encouraged to check with their carrier before heading out to the airport.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education says that in response to the storm, state math tests set to be administered tomorrow to students in grades three through five will be pushed back until Wednesday, March 4th. Tests will continue for third graders on Thursday, March 5th. Students in fourth grade will take the tests Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The snow storm has also pushed the deadline back to Friday, March 6th. Families should apply in person to any school they are interested in having their child attend.
Despite the storm, Citymeals on Wheels was able to help more than 17,000 people across all the five boroughs.
The program's executive director, Marcia Stein, warns that the days ahead may be more difficult because of slippery sidewalks. She also emphasized the importance of New Yorkers pitching in to help the elderly.
"If you live near somebody who is alone and old and the city is full of people like that, why don't you stop in and see how they are doing. One of the things we worry about is space heaters in this kind of cold weather. If they are too close to something, they are a fire hazard," said Stein.
Citymeals on Wheels says they always supply canned goods in case deliveries don't come through because of the weather.