Despite rainy weather, New York City plans for worst-case scenario

EMBED </>More Videos

Jim Dolan has the details.

New York City received mostly rain from the storm that moved through the region, but after November's storm crippled the Tri-State Area, city officials weren't taking any chances.

"We're doing more, sooner as a result of the November incident," OEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito said.

Esposito remembers that storm well, and he remembers his department's anemic response to it. For about a day, it looked like Mayor Bill de Blasio would fire him for it. But he is still there, and he says the city is ready for the storm.

The New York City Department of Sanitation had plows and salt spreaders at the ready, even as the forecast changed to light snow followed by an almost complete changeover to rain. Still, icing conditions are possible as temperatures nosedive Sunday.

Mayor de Blasio warned New Yorkers to get their business done Saturday, because they may not be able to safely travel the rest of the weekend. The cold and icing could bring down trees and cause power outages. The mayor said the timing works out with the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

"The fact that this is happening in the middle of the weekend and then we get Monday off on top of that to work with, in a tough situation that certainly gives us a major advantage," he said.

WATCH: Mayor de Blasio outlines preparations for the weekend storm

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said the city is planning for the worst-case scenario and not leaving anything to chance in the face of some unpredictable weather.

Garcia said the tricky forecast required preparing for the worst, particularly to avoid what happened in November -- when a last-minute forecast change caught the city off guard.

Motorists spent hours trying to traverse clogged and congested highways and side streets where traffic was at a standstill, and those issues combined with accidents on the George Washington Bridge and other bridge closures impeded plows, salt trucks and commuter buses (which did not have chains on their tires due to the initial forecast). Thousands of passengers were stranded at the Port Authority But Terminal as a result.

Garcia insisted the sanitation department was not responsible for that mess, but still, she said this response will be different.

"We always feel a sense of pressure when there's a big storm coming at the city, particularly one like this where the predictions are wild," she said. "We could get very, very heavy snowfall, almost no snowfall, sleet, freezing rain up and down, all weekend long. So we are taking extremely conservative action to make sure that we are ready and keep the city moving."

She pointed out that the snow totals in November were the highest for that month in the city's history, and the troubles were exacerbated by the fact that trees still had leaves. The heavy, wet snow brought down down countless trees and power lines, which made some roads unpassable.

Still, she says the big concern is icy roads and sidewalks.

On the Major Deegan in November, plows could not properly clear the road due to the number of accidents, in addition to abandoned cars. Some people who stayed were on the roadway for 10 hours.

----------
* More New York City news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Related Topics:
weatherweathersnowsnow plowsanitation workersnow stormNew York City
(Copyright ©2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)