Harp Declares Snow Emergency

Paul Bass Photo(Updated: 2:18 p.m.) Battling to keep up with fast-falling snow projected to continue on and off into the weekend, Mayor Toni Harp declared a winter storm emergency Thursday afternoon.

Thomas MacMIllan Photo“We are going to be out on the streets all day long and all night long,” Harp (pictured) said at a 1:15 p.m. briefing on Winter Storm Pax at the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the 200 Orange St. government office building. “We are going to fight this storm.”

Acting City Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Pugh said the declaration makes the city eligible for state reimbursement. Then the governor has the authority to make a declaration to seek federal reimbursement for handling emergencies.

“Local resources may be unable to cope” with the storm, Harp wrote in her emergency proclamation.

Plow drivers are struggling on narrow streets with accumulated snow and ice from recent storms as well as the freshly fallen white stuff; up to a foot is on the ground in places. Forecasters said the snow may turn to rain this afternoon, but then return to snow in the evening and continue into the morning. More snow is expected Friday night and Saturday.

Paul Bass PhotoThe city has announced a downtown parking ban from midnight Thursday night to 6 a.m. Friday morning. People can park overnight in the Granite Square, Crown Street and Temple Street garages through Saturday.

“We are going to dig out now. When it wanes, we’re going to dig out again. We’re going to continue to dig out and cart out this snow so we can use our city again,” Harp declared at the EOC briefing with department heads. “I have confidence in you and the work that you do. Let’s get busy. Let’s get back to work.”

Harp appealed to New Haveners to help out crews and offer them coffee as they work around the clock.

Paul Bass PhotoEmergency operations director Rick Fontana (pictured conferring with police Lt. Jeff Hoffman) also asked neighbors to shovel out their storm drains. One big danger looming, he said, is that rain this afternoon will have nowhere to go because of blocked drains. As plows push both water and snow onto the streets, flooding and hydroplaning may result.

“They know where the storm drains are,” Fontana said of neighbors out shoveling. “Clear them to let the water through.”

There is close to a foot of snow on the streets, Fontana said.

“There’s nowhere for it to go,” said Fontana of the snow. “We will make the city the safest city in the state of Connecticut.”

Public Works Director Doug Ardnt said 35 crews are working in the streets.

Homeless shelters are allowing people to stay inside during the day, according to deputy community services chief Jackie James.

Melissa Bailey PhotoPlease update us on how your block is faring with snow-plowing in this latest storm by posting a comment below. What are the conditions, as of what time? Any unusual conditions? How was the street before this latest storm began?

You can also report any snow-related concerns on SeeClickFix.


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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 13, 2014  2:37pm

The city could have paid for one of these.



posted by: Joe City on February 13, 2014  2:43pm

So what are the specifics of this “Oh it’s snowing? Maybe I should declare a snow emergency now,” afterthought.

Every city in the state had declared yesterday!

Anyway, wouldn’t it be helpful for the NHI to print the details?

posted by: anonymous on February 13, 2014  3:49pm

Why can’t the city hire entry-level staff to clear drains and bus stops for $15/hour? 

We have 10,000 people looking for jobs here. 

If we cut back benefits for a few high-paying positions - a number of which currently pay over $250,000 per year when benefits are considered - we could easily hire a brigade of snow shovelers and park maintainers.

posted by: stpauliegurl on February 13, 2014  4:09pm

How come the NHI knows that the Mayor declares a snow emergency before her employees and someone help me if there’s a snow emergency shouldn’t the City be closed and the employees should be dismissed early??? Rob Smuts might’ve not been the greatest but at least there was a city wide email informing employees they can leave using they own time or if there was an early dismissal.

posted by: J.R. Logan on February 13, 2014  4:16pm

I hear the call for how important it is to help out your neighbors who are stuck in the snow. I’m going to be trying out the SnowCrew app (build with the SeeClickFix platform) that connects people willing to dig with those who need digging. Who else wants to help out? (or needs help)


posted by: Nathan on February 13, 2014  5:02pm

As if the weather isn’t bad enough, I now have to agree with a comment from Anonymous: “Why can’t the city hire entry-level staff to clear drains and bus stops for $15/hour?”  Why, indeed, and while they are at it, why not have them clear the sidewalks at intersections when the snow is fresh and movable?

As for plowing in my area - forget it.  Between lazy neighbors who refuse to voluntarily observe one side parking bans and a city government unwilling or unable to enforce them, the now hardened blocks of ice, hidden under the fresh snow, will destroy both plowing attempts and the plows themselves.

posted by: alex on February 13, 2014  5:55pm

The state should pool its resources and consider creative cloud seeding solutions:


Prevent the snow before it happens.

posted by: Ex-NHPD on February 13, 2014  6:29pm

The reason that this snowfall is a Snow Emergency is because of the complete ineptitude of the City to competently remove snow during the prior snow falls.

‘“Local resources may be unable to cope” with the storm, Harp wrote in her emergency proclomation.’  “may be uanble to” should be changed to “can’t”, or “won’t”.

This has been the norm for New Haven since I came here in the early 1980’s.  With each passing snowfall, the City, by their negligence, is putting their citizens at risk. 

With one more snowfall, piled on top of the already unpassable streets in many neighborhoods, it is a spin of the wheel of fate before the NHFD can not get to a structure fire on a street to fight the fire.  Or an AMR ambulance can not get to an address of a medical emergency; or gets stuck trying to get out once they get there.

The worse I saw the city paralyzed by the inability to adequately plow the streets was the winter of 1993/94. Neighborhoods were held hostage for months by their snowed in streets. There was an uproar to make sure it never happened again. 

It can’t be that difficult to research how to better do the work.  Finding out how places like Syracuse and Buffalo handle the snow removal can’t be any harder than a phone call/email/copy of implementation plan. A little research and then implementation of what is appropriate here.

Is it the equipment?  Is it the personnel?  Is it the supervision?  Is it the playbook?  Is it apathy? Is it incompetence?  Is it all of these?

In her EOC briefing, Harp said, in essence, that the City has failed.  Will anybody in City Government learn a lesson from this failure and attack this pox that no one seems to have an antidote for?

posted by: dw on February 13, 2014  7:34pm

I look out my window and want to cry.How am I going to get out to go to work and if I do will I be able to park anywhere?Missed days working mean no pay.
Last year I slipped 2x on ice mounded corners while moving my car to a designated lot.Others just left their cars.Took months to heal.

posted by: Guido Brunetti on February 13, 2014  11:16pm

Is it really pragmatic to keep City Hall open in extreme weather conditions? There must be utility expenses that could be conserved. How much business was transacted today? 

I think it’s more of an image concern, considering that the functions of City Hall and Hall of Records (excepting the Emergency Operations center) are considered “nonessential” in times of emergency.

Rob Smutts got it.

posted by: Westville voter on February 14, 2014  11:06am

Ten inches of snow in New England is not an “emergency.” It’s called winter. The disaster is New Haven’s constant failure to plow the streets, something other, competently run cities manage without federal bailouts. In addition to the hefty tax bills for this incompetence, our children have lost school time and parents have lost work time. Those substantial costs won’t be reimbursed by the Feds. It’s time to demand that our city leaders fix this or get out. We cannot afford the cost of these failures any more. No more excuses!

posted by: urban ed on February 14, 2014  12:55pm

Paul, I’ll be happy to let you know how plowing goes on my block *if it ever happens.* We currently have one lane open courtesy of a good Samaritan neighbor to whom I now owe two lasagnas. We’re at Robertson and Carrol.

posted by: Shaggybob on February 14, 2014  1:28pm

How about using all the people sentenced to community service. Its free and helps us and them to work off their hours. !!

deputizing city employees from different departments to issue parking citations could help to. The resources are there is we want to utilize them. LETS DO IT !


The city also needs to provide people with alternate places to park for storms-enforcement alone won’t do it.