City plows buried cars, toppled headstones

January 5, 2011 3:10:25 AM PST
Controversy continues to build over New York City's handling of the holiday blizzard.

Sanitation crews are now under fire for dumping piles of snow along a street in Brooklyn, damaging headstones at a cemetery.

Workers continue to hit the streets around the clock, clearing and melting snow. But residents still say it's taking too long.

Mountains of snow on Bay Parkway in Midwood left people's cars buried underneath. A Nissan Altima was completely destroyed by the weight of the snow.

Sanitation workers buried several cars and trucks last week as they cleared snow from the roads, and either didn't notice or didn't care about the collateral damage.

"It's unsalvageable," truck owner Mario Roca said of his buried vehicle. "It's completely trashed. The frame of the box is damaged. The windshield is collapsed, the mirrors are missing, and the front end is being pressed down by all of the heavy snow."

Workers piled the snow so high that it knocked down the fence to the Washington Cemetery, damaging as many as 30 headstones.

Sanitation officials admit the mistake, but locals are furious over the careless action.

"How is this acceptable?" City Councilman David Greenfield said. "How did you not see a car and dump piles of snow on top of it, and then pile the snow so high that it collapses, falls on a fence and then topples over tombstones in our community? It's really shocking."

All this comes as the feds and the city council launch an investigation into whether sanitation workers engaged in a deliberate slowdown during snow removal operations. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sanitation boss John Doherty have denied claims of a slowdown, but federal prosecutors are investigating several claims. One includes a video posted on YouTube that shows sanitation workers at a Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn. The person who shot the video claims the workers hung out there for hours as city plows sat parked outside, while streets remain unplowed.

The Department of Sanitation says the operation will continue until all the mounds of snow are gone.

As for the cemetery damage, a Sanitation Department spokesperson released a statement reading, "During ongoing emergency snow clearing operations, the fence along the cemetery collapsed due to piled snow. The department is reaching out to cemetery officials to provide them with the necessary paperwork to file a claim."

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