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New York area digging out from winter storm

Michelle Charlesworth reports from Brooklyn.
January 22, 2014 3:38:13 PM PST
Residents across the New York area are spending Wednesday digging out and trying to stay safe and warm after a winter storm brought heavy snow and bone-chilling cold.

Unexpected and staggering snow totals blanketed parts of the area, with Manalapan, New Jersey, recording the highest snowfall reading at nearly 16 inches. Suffolk County on Long Island bore the brunt of the storm, with most areas seeing well over a foot.

After complaints about the city's response to the snowfall on the Upper East Side, Mayor Bill de Blasio said late Wednesday that more could have been done to clear the neighborhood's streets.

The snow coincided with the arrival of an arctic front, plunging temperatures into the teens and single digits. It is expected to rise to a high in the upper teens on Wednesday.

Many schools were closed in the area, except in New York City, where public schools were open for business for 1.1 million students.

Allison Pennell said her two children were "very cranky and bitter" when they learned they had to go to school Wednesday. But Pennell, who said she grew up in the city herself, remembered hardly ever having snow days.

NEW YORK CITY More than 2,000 workers in New York City mobilized overnight to clear 6,200 miles of streets in a race to get the roads and thoroughfares passable in time for rush hour. Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said the Tuesday evening commute bottled up plows on many of the streets. Still, most of the major roads were clear throughout the five boroughs, but some secondary and tertiary roads remained a mess.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is under fire by some for the response to the storm, held a public appearance at EMS Station 32 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Wednesday morning, during which he thanked first responders. Late Wednesday, he issued a statement saying the city did not adequately clear streets on the Upper East Side.

"After hearing concerns about street conditions on the Upper East Side, I headed to the area to survey the streets for myself, and to hear from residents directly. While the overall storm response across the city was well-executed, after inspecting the area and listening to concerns from residents earlier today, I determined more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side. I have instructed the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to double-down on cleanup efforts on the Upper East Side, and as a result, 30 vehicles and nearly 40 sanitation workers have been deployed to the area to finish the cleanup. Our crews will remain on the streets around the clock until the roadways are clear in every neighborhood, in every borough, across New York City."

Earlier, he again shoveled the sidewalk in front of his Park Slope home. Although satisfied by the city's response, he said there were "isolated incidents" during which the intensified snowfall during rush hour made it difficult to plow. But once traffic eased, he said crews were able to clear the streets.

De Blasio and New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari?a were also being criticized for their decision to keep public schools open. All student after-school programs and PSAL games are also resuming their normal schedules.

Alternate Side Parking regulations and trash and recycling pickup are suspended through Thursday, but meter rules remain in effect.

All winter weather information and information about the city's response to the storm can be found by visiting the City's Severe Weather Website at NYC.gov/severeweather or by calling 311.

LONG ISLAND

Several townships on Long Island declared states of emergency, and many highways across the region were clogged with vehicles moving at a snail's pace across snow-covered pavement for the evening rush. The LIRR is operating on a weekend schedule, but trains were moving mostly on time Wednesday morning.

Pat Audinot, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, justified the decision not to close the Long Island Expressway or other major roadways on the island. Governor Andrew Cuomo had ordered the LIE and other state roads closed during another snowstorm earlier this month, but Audinot said that although roadways were crowded, they were still considered passable.

Nassau County courts were set to reopen at 11 a.m. after being closed at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

NEW JERSEY

Gov. Chris Christie issued a state of emergency due to the storm, which turned the Tuesday commute into a tangled mess. Most major roads were cleared as of Wednesday, but drivers were urged to use caution and NJ Tranist was cross-honoring tickets system wide. PATH trains were running on time on a regular schedule.

By late Tuesday afternoon, state police said there had been 238 reported motor vehicle accidents and 354 incidents where motorists needed aid.

The storm forced Christie to cancel his inaugural party scheduled for Tuesday night on Ellis Island.

WESTCHESTER

Metro-North is running on a reduced schedule after Westchester got hit with several inches of snow. Commuters rushed from one of the last rush-hour trains after it pulled into the station at New Rochelle around 8 p.m. Tuesday, but they weren't the only ones having issues getting home in the snow.

Department of Transportation workers were out salting and sanding roads, but still, several drivers got stuck and needed assistance after spinning out on the Cross County Parkway. At the height of the storm, driving was treacherous and dangerous. Steve Stephanson was one of dozens of motorists who lost control on roadways in Yonkers and throughout the county, and gusty winds only made driving conditions worse.

State DOT workers say they responded to five times as many calls for assistance than during a typical rush hour. CONNECTICUT

Airline flights are canceled and schools are closed or opening late in Connecticut after a storm dumped up to a foot of snow in parts of the state.

Bradley International Airport north of Hartford is reporting nearly two dozen cancelled departing flights Wednesday morning. Metro-North officials say the rail service will operate on a regular weekday schedule on the New Haven, Hudson and Harlem lines, but delays are likely.

Schools are closed Wednesday in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and many other cities and towns. Waterbury schools are among those opening 90 minutes to two hours late.

Unofficial snowfall totals range from only an inch in northern parts of the state to nearly a foot in Plainfield. A wind chill advisory remains in effect.

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More information:

AccuWeather Forecast

Severe weather warnings and watches

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut School Closings

New York City's Severe Weather Website: www.nyc.gov/severeweather or call 311.

New Yorkers are also encouraged to sign up for the Notify NYC, the City's free emergency notification system. Through Notify NYC, New Yorkers can sign up for receive phone calls, text messages, and emails alerts about severe weather events and emergencies. To sign up for Notify NYC, call 311, visit www.nyc.gov or follow @ NotifyNYC on Twitter.

MTA Information

NJ Transit information (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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