Nemo Damage Could Total $2M

Melissa Bailey PhotoAs the cost of the blizzard continued to climb Monday, and main arteries remained barely passable, Mayor John DeStefano made a request for more help from the National Guard.

DeStefano made the remarks during a 5 p.m. briefing Monday at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) below 200 Orange St., where top city officials gathered for a regular update on response to Winter Storm Nemo.

Most institutions remain closed Tuesday and city officials urge drivers to stay off the roads. See the bottom of the story for more details.

The storm has cost the city about $400,000 so far, not counting the Department of Public Works, according to an update from the city finance department.

“Great,” sighed the mayor upon hearing the news. “You’re easily going to hit 2 million,” he predicted.

Because President Obama declared an emergency in Connecticut, the city can apply for federal reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the storm cleanup costs for a 48-hour period.

Meanwhile, the EOC has been flooded with calls Monday from neighbors wondering when their streets will be plowed. Department of Public Works Chief Doug Arndt said he aims to have 95 percent of streets plowed by Tuesday morning, ahead of the city’s goal to do so by midday Tuesday.

If your street still isn’t plowed Tuesday, you can let the city know by calling 203-946-8221.

The National Guard has been helping the city since 2:30 a.m. Saturday. It has dispatched four staffed Humvees to help the fire department rescue people and cars. In addition, the Guard provided two medium-sized pay loaders to help dig out snow, according to Rick Fontana, the city’s deputy chief of emergency operations.

Mayor DeStefano on Monday asked Fontana to issue a request in writing for more help from the Guard, particularly more pay loaders. Because of how deep the snow is, plows can’t handle side streets alone. The city needs them to scoop out the snow first.

Private contractors have been lending three extra pay loaders to the city’s cleanup efforts, bringing the total to 27. Those three machines won’t be in use overnight because the contractors don’t have drivers to staff them, reported Assistant Chief Ralph Black. There was some discussion about whether the city should find drivers to keep those machines going all night.

DeStefano asked the fire department to assemble a crew to check main arterial roads in the morning. While they’ve all been plowed, they are still partially covered in hard pack, creating deep ruts that make for a rough ride.

“I was bouncing all over today. It was brutal,” DeStefano said.

Whitney Avenue remained very bumpy when the Independent toured through Monday afternoon. Cars were having trouble navigating the icy slush on Dixwell Avenue. Winchester was a mess—it was barely wide enough for a bus to pass a city truck of salt. Newhallville side streets were barely passable. Whalley Avenue, which is four lanes, provided the smoothest ride.

In other Nemo news:

• Public schools, city government, state court, Gateway, Yale will all remain closed Tuesday because of the storm.
• Public meetings canceled Tuesday.
• Mayor: Downtown won’t be ready for cars yet, as crews focus on clearing neighborhood streets.
• Shoreline East and Amtrak are back; Metro-North resumes limited service.
• My Ride resumes Tuesday.
• The city has towed 119 cars so far, reported Police Chief Dean Esserman.
• The last of 27 stranded cop cruisers was rescued today, Esserman said.
• 25 school parking lots are open; with another five to six more expected to be open by morning, according to schools Chief Operating Officer Will Clark.


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posted by: anonymous on February 11, 2013  9:06pm

When Dunkirk had to be evacuated, hundreds of privately-owned ships sailed out of the harbors and pitched in.  Every able bodied person for miles around was called in to help.

Here, it seems that it is every private parking lot owner and SUV driver to themselves.  The private lots were pristine minutes after the storm ended, whereas critical city routes are still impassable days later.

Perhaps the next time there is a severe blizzard, the city will have a plan to dig out immediately.

posted by: DingDong on February 11, 2013  11:22pm

Correction/clarification: Amtrak has normal service tomorrow.

posted by: Dean Moriarty on February 12, 2013  1:39am

“There was some discussion about whether the city should find drivers to keep those machines going all night”

Really? This needed discussion?  NH botched this from the very beginning. Please, I’m tired of hearing how historic this was.  First off, if you institute a ban on driving, enforce the damn thing! Quinnipiac Ave has been a disaster for three days.  I’ve watched as dozens of “drivers” (for lack of a better word) have been stuck in front of my house, because they ignored the ban.  Plows and emergency vehicles had MUCH trouble getting around these vehicles.  At times there were actually at least 10 cars stuck at once.  And yes, before criticism, I did help out drivers with shoveling, but my point is, they should not have been there in the first place.

And secondly, “phases”? Please.  You don’t do “phases” in a situation such as this.  You put the equipment out there and work the job until it’s done.  There has been no sense or urgency about this at all by this Admin.  Blame Perez?  Blame JD? Who knows.  But it has to be corrected and improved for our future storms.

Most importantly, I want to add that the crews out here working have been exemplary and nothing short of great.  They know how to do their jobs.  The problem is in the direction and implementation, which comes from Church St., and has been, quite frankly, woefully inadequate.

posted by: michaelnogelo on February 12, 2013  8:35am

Anonymous: what neighborhood do you live in where the private lots were “pristine minutes after the storm ended”? Not my neighborhood.  I’m guessing the city’s priority has been plowing streets first.

posted by: nib1 on February 12, 2013  11:28am

Why haven’t we heard from Perez? He was the acting Mayor when the storm began. You dropped the ball.  I want to know why there were no plows out Friday night so they could get a head start on the storm.  Now you have plows getting stuck because there is too much snow.  Destefano had to come back from Ireland to clean up his mess. This is ridiculous. Side streets have not been plowed, but downtown is clear and the main roads are plowed.  What the ....!!

posted by: anonymous on February 12, 2013  1:27pm

Now they are saying the temporary help is only hired to clean downtown and only limited to 20 people. What about the bus stops all over the rest of New Haven? It’s a big city with hundreds of bus stops. In yesteryear, hundreds of people were hired to help dig out.

posted by: Curious on February 13, 2013  10:42am

Anon, your comments are getting laughably ridiculous now.

“The private lots were pristine minutes after the storm ended”

Really?  Do you even LIVE in New Haven?  I doubt it, because that statement is patently false.  They are STILL cleaning out private lots this morning.

“It’s a big city with hundreds of bus stops.”

No, there aren’t hundreds of bus stops.  All you have to do is look at the system map for two seconds to realize that.

Where do you get the idea that “hundreds” of people were hired to dig the city out in years gone by?