Shams Tarek and
It was supposed to be a day off from work, and one of the busiest shopping days of the post-Christmas winter season.
this year’s President’s Day saw stores shuttered and backs aching across
the borough, which spent Feb. 17 — and the next few days as well —
digging out of between 16.5 and 28 inches of the cold white stuff.
The so-called “Blizzard of ‘03” brought the most snowfall in a single storm in New York City since the “Blizzard of ‘96,” according to local weather reports. National Weather Service (NWS) statistics show that Queens got almost as much snow during Monday’s storm as it did during all of January 1996, when the last big blizzard hit.
F. Kennedy Airport got 25.6 inches of snowfall on Feb. 17, according to the
NWS, while LaGuardia Airport got 16.5.
Those two locations got 23 inches and 27.6 inches, respectively,
during all of January 1996.
highest snowfall in the borough was recorded in the Howard Beach area, which
got 28 inches, according to the NWS.
Central Park got 19.8 inches.
despite the sophistication of the government’s ground and satellite-based
recording equipment, the NWS numbers tell only half the story, in half the
winds and busy snow plows left piles three to five feet high on many
residential streets, with even higher piles in some places.
Fire hydrants, garbage cans and even entire cars were completely
buried in snow.
The fact that the snow fell on a federal holiday, when most City agencies were closed, didn’t help much. All the community boards and local elected official offices were officially closed, leaving residents without an advocate and conduit through which to report snow cleanup problems.
An avalanche of calls did come on Feb. 18, though, when residents realized that their streets should be clean and their representatives should be responding.
took the proactive approach.
The St. Albans district office of Councilman Leroy Comrie, which was
closed Feb. 17, called about 30 constituents on Feb. 18 to make sure that
the district was plowed properly, Comrie said while driving back a day late
from a weekend in Albany.
Only two residents — one in Hollis and one in Jamaica, he said –
reported that their streets hadn’t been plowed.
hospitals reported only a few minor injuries on Feb. 18, including “six or
seven slip and fall accidents” at Jamaica Hospital, according to spokesman
Ole Padersen. No
one in Queens was reported to die or have sustained major injuries because
of the snow, but Padersen said they are “likely to increase now that
people are out shoveling.”
Con Edison, which delivers electricity to the borough’s buildings, reported that 24 building owners were without power in the 24 hours between 2:10 p.m. Feb. 17 and 18.
Fire Department also didn’t report any major problems despite the two feet
of snow much of the borough got this week.
Michael Loughran said that “We haven’t seen a drastic increase in
response times,” and that no fires have been caused by the snow in the
suggested that for their own safety, property owners clear the snow around
their fire hydrants.
spokesman Charles Sturken, who works for the agency that installs and
maintains the hydrants, said that as sidewalk objects, no City agency,
including the Department of Sanitation, clears snow off of fire hydrants.
He added that residents could technically get fined if found dumping
snow over hydrants, but safety is the bigger issue.
would be very reckless and irresponsible to dump snow on top of a fire
hydrant,” Sturken said.
cars buried in snow, trains and buses running on delays and nearly two feet
of snow making it difficult for people to walk, many Queens residents were
stuck at home on Feb. 17, with no hope of visiting friends, buying
groceries, or partaking in the winter wonderland that blanketed the borough.
for some Eastern Queens residents, like Floral Park native Matthew
McCormick, the snow wasn’t an obstacle, but rather an “exciting
challenge that’s really fun to overcome.” He told the Tribune,
“There is no way I’m getting stuck indoors when there’s all this
beautiful snow out. If I don’t have to go to work, well then I’m going
to go out and have a good time.”
lawyer and avid skier was driving around the streets of Eastern Queens on a
snowmobile that he said he “mostly uses in Vermont.” In a pair of
goggles and a ski suit, McCormick said he traveled to the Waldbaum’s on
Union Turnpike, Blockbuster Video on Hillside Avenue, his friend’s house
on 248th Street and the 7-11 on Little Neck Turnpike on Feb. 17.
Queens residents also used innovative and creative means to get around the
borough despite the snowfall. Bellerose resident Joshua Pannick pulled out
his skis and glided down Union Turnpike in an attempt to fill a prescription
Glen Oaks resident Janie Rogers had the most interesting means of
transportation. With her mother Michele and her father Dennis watching close
by, little Janie sat on a plastic sled and got pulled down the street by
Barney, the family’s Golden Retriever.
the morning of Feb. 18, transit riders grappled with a slow, long commute to
the Willets Point-Shea Stadium station during rush hour, the 7 train
temporarily stopped and passengers were told to take a shuttle bus to Main
of commuters needing to get to Flushing rushed buses, with one elderly woman
toppling over in the snow to get aboard the shuttle bus.
The bus, Bayside resident Adam Striker told the Tribune
that he was one “tired” commuter who had been trying to get home the
previous day from Manhattan, where he was stranded the night before. On
the day of the storm, he decided to go into work.
2 p.m. in afternoon, Striker found that the Long Island Railroad was
suspended. Twenty hours and many phone calls later, he made it home.
[LIRR workers] couldn’t tell me before about the delays, I don’t
know...I would’ve taken a cab. I’ve been trying to get home for
nearly 24 hours,” Striker said.
the bus rolled down Roosevelt Avenue at a turtle’s pace due the heavy
traffic up ahead, some commuters opted to walk the rest of the way to Main
Street, instead of wait.
Heads Of All Ages Hit Queens’ Greens
By Angela Montefinise
For 42-year-old Steven Parissi of Douglaston, a blizzard is the perfect opportunity to head to the golf course.
Feb. 17, while more than two feet of snow was busy blanketing Queens,
Parissi and his sons Michael, Philip, Ronnie and Jake joined dozens of other
sledders at Douglaston Golf Course, where kids of all ages grabbed their
sleds, snowboards, tubes, skis, rafts and garbage can lids, and slid down
“sled head” Parissi said he has been coming to Douglaston Golf Course
since “he was a small kid” to sled, and said, “Now that I’m a big
kid, I use my boys as an excuse to come back.”
Lewis High School students Alan Chu, Benny Lee and Daniel Hermann agree, and
hit Kissena Golf Course with their sleds and snowboards on Feb. 17. Lee
said, “Who needs Windham [Ski Resort]? We can hit the slopes right
here.” He said he practices snowboarding tricks at Kissena Golf Course,
and said, “It’s a lot cheaper than a ski place, and it’s a lot safer
to try tricks. It’s not quite as steep.”
For The Latest From The City . . .
the Tribune went to press, City officials were reporting that alternate side
of the street parking would be suspended on Feb. 19, however there was no
further information available about regulations for the rest of the week.
Call the DOT at CALL-DOT for the latest update.