De Blasio: Travel on NYC streets banned during blizzard
No school Tuesday; Sanitation plans to get secondary streets cleared faster
Mayor de Blasio warned New Yorkers to stay off city streets as a massive nor’easter – nicknamed Juno – bore down on the city on Monday.
At a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn, the mayor, accompanied by top city officials, said he had issued a Winter Weather Emergency Declaration restricting travel by all except emergency personnel beginning at 11 p.m. Monday night.
“Our message to New Yorkers is to not underestimate this storm. It’s not business as usual,” the mayor said.
“Make preparations to get home this afternoon before the worst of the storm hits,” he urged. “We need cars off the road so that our equipment can do its work and keep streets passable for emergency vehicles.”
In response to persistent questioning by reporters, de Blasio said that food delivery drivers were “not essential emergency personnel.”
The city has added 40 percent more ambulances and the FDNY has put 500 additional staff members on duty, officials said.
The National Weather Service forecast approximately two feet of snow across New York City. However, the forecast “can change at any time,” de Blasio said.
He warned for-hire car services like Uber that price-gouging during emergencies was illegal.
“If you have any evidence of people taking advantage of this emergency to unfairly and illegally raise the prices of their rides, call 311 and report it,” de Blasio said. “The Taxi and Limousine Commission will investigate.”
Uber told AP that surge pricing will be capped at 2.8 times the normal fare during the storm. The company is also planning to donate the proceeds after paying drivers to the American Red Cross, a policy it began after criticism when prices surged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina told reporters that school is canceled on Tuesday, and Regents examines scheduled for Tuesday will take place on Thursday. After-school programs, adult education programs and PSAL activities are also canceled on Tuesday.
Saying that the streets were dangerous, Farina said, “Keep your kids home. Reading a good book is not a bad way to spend a day off from school,” she said.
Late on Monday, New York City public libraries announced they will also be closed on Tuesday.
Gov. Cuomo said at a press conference on Monday that 700 members of the National Guard would be deployed to New York City and Long Island during the emergency. OEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito told reporters that members of the National Guard would be deployed with high-axel vehicles to help EMS and other NYC emergency personnel.
Cuomo also announced a travel ban on all state and local roads in thirteen downstate counties effective at 11 p.m. Monday. All MTA and Port Authority public transit systems will also be suspended beginning at 11 pm. until further notice.
De Blasio, who shoveled his own walk in Park Slope (with the help of son Dante) during last year’s blizzards, told reporters he had no plans to shovel Gracie Mansion. “I do miss my house,” he said
Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the NYC City Department of Transportation, said the department hoped to fill 2,000 potholes before the storm slammed the city.
Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said it was critical to “be ahead of the event.” Sanitation is testing a plan that will get many secondary streets plowed earlier than previous years, she said.
Sanitation has 12-hour shifts of 2,400 workers each on duty, with 1,800 collection trucks outfitted with plows and another 500 salt spreaders, also outfitted with plows. Plowing progress can be followed via the PlowNYC feature at nyc.gov/plownyc.
The New York City Department of Homeless Services is increasing its outreach to homeless individuals, Gilbert Taylor, commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, told reporters.
The agency increased the number of outreach vans to 11 and installed 15 outreach teams across the five boroughs.
Alternate side parking and garbage/recycling collection are suspended Tuesday (January 27) and Wednesday (January 28) to facilitate snow removal. Parking meters remain in effect.
City parks were set to close at 6 p.m. Monday and remain closed until further notice.
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