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Residents Express Frustrations Over New London Snow Removal

Downed wires, long shifts contribute to difficulties in clearing snow; city seeking state aid in efforts

As residents waited for the arrival of a snowplow to clear their street this weekend, several took to the web to express their frustration at the pace of snow removal after the weekend blizzard.

Mayor Daryl Finizio's official Facebook page, which has been providing updates on storm response, has been deluged with tips on hazardous areas, inquiries about closings, and complaints about roads that remain blocked by snow.

Finizio said the Department of Public Works is working to reach each street in New London by the end of the day on Sunday, and that private contractors and school custodians have also been brought in to assist with snow removal efforts. He said a parking ban and other winter emergency rules remain in effect, with the New London Police Department ticketing and towing vehicles in violation of the parking ban.

The Water Street Parking Garage remains open for free parking to New London residents during the ban. The downtown municipal lots have also been cleared and are available for use.

The city has also requested assistance from the state, and Finizio said Gov. Dannel Malloy has promised to send help to southeastern Connecticut as soon as possible.

Side street woes

During the storm, residents reported downed wires, abandoned vehicles, and other hazards on the Facebook page. The posts transitioned to requests for service and questions about delays on Saturday as the storm abated.

"We're getting a little frustrated here on Sherman Street," Lisa Booth DeMaio posted on Sunday morning. "Part of the street has been plowed, the rest of it has not been touched."

"The city has not plowed Oakwood Road once," Rob Acquaro reported. "Nobody can get out!"

Jeni Jarbeau, a Maxson Place resident, said she thought the pace of the snow removal should be faster due to the small size of the city.

"I used to think how fortunate I am to live in a city that has always done a phenomenal job at keeping up with any kind of clean up," she said. "My opinion has changed."

Paul Vine accused the city of favoritism in choosing which roads should be cleared and demanded that more workers be brought in to assist in the effort.

"You were able to make it to do your job, but we can't make it do ours," Vine posted. "I am certain that you have not made an attempt to plow Summer Street whatsoever. This is really pathetic, and sad."

Mayor response

In a Friday update, the mayor's office said most roads were inaccessible due to downed power lines and other hazardous conditions. At that time, the city was focusing on keeping routes between the city's neighborhoods and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital open.

Posts from the mayor's office repeatedly urged residents to be patient. In response to one Jennie Lane resident's plea for plowing on the street on Saturday morning, Finizio estimated that three-quarters of the city streets were in a similar situation at that time.

Finizio also said all plow crews were working for over 40 hours and were given a chance to rest on Sunday morning before resuming work at noon. He said the resumed effort would include smaller plows addressing side streets with the goal of clearing all streets by midnight.

"This is just an unprecedented snowfall which is beyond our capacity to address in any shorter timeframe than it is taking currently," one post read.

Finizio also denied that any neighborhoods were receiving higher priority.

"No street/neighborhood has any priority because of money or influence. We are following the most efficient system for clearing everyone," Finizio said in one comment. "Priorities are based on manpower and emergency needs. As proof I can report that the Public Works director's street remains unplowed. No one is getting special treatment and no one has been forgotten. We are doing all we can."

Driving discouraged

Both Finizio and Malloy have urged drivers to continue to stay off the roads unless the trip is essential. Malloy lifted a travel ban on state roads on Saturday afternoon, but continued to discourage residents and tractor trailers from taking to the streets.

“Every time someone gets stuck, it is preventing plows from doing their jobs,” Malloy.

Malloy added that due to road conditions and restricted parking availability, residents - especially state employees - should make arrangements to carpool to work on Monday. He asked truckers to delay driving until the evening to allow snow removal efforts to continue during the day.

Finizio said an order closing New London's roads is technically still in effect, but said that "realistically" anyone seeking to drive should exercise caution.

"If you don't need to be on the road, don't," he said.

Emergency declaration

New London is looking for assistance from the state in responding to the weekend blizzard, while the state will receive federal aid following a declaration of a state of emergency in Connecticut.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said President Barack Obama's emergency declaration allows for direct federal assistance in snow removal equipment and personnel, power generators, and other aid. Under the declaration, federal disaster funding will be available for 75 percent of emergency costs incurred by the state, municipalities, and eligible non-profits for a 48-hour period.

“This declaration will provide much needed assistance to the state and our towns and cities as we continue to recover from this historic winter storm,” said Malloy.

Cancellations and advice to residents

New London Public Schools have canceled school on Monday. City offices not related to storm response will also be closed.

With rain in the forecast for Monday, Malloy urged residents to clear the snow from their roofs and drainage areas to avoid roof collapses and flooding. The National Weather Service is predicting rain and temperatures up to 44 degrees for New London throughout the day on Monday.

As of Sunday afternoon, 1,544 of New London's 13,747 CL&P customers remained without power. CL&P has said power restoration may take until Monday. Anyone who needs to use a Red Cross emergency shelter can get more information on them by dialing 2-1-1.

Residents are responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes. Snow should not be shoveled into the street.

Kathleen Mitchell February 12, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Thanks for clarifying your point, John. I'm not going to say I stayed up all night trying to figure it out but I did spend some time trying to figure it out.
John Maynard February 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Who loves you Kathleen :)
RED DOG February 12, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Who is responsible to make sure all streets are cleared and passable? If the Mayor is proclaiming all streets are clear he has been ill informed. Perkins Street never plowed from Norwood to Dead End and there is a resident that cannot get out from their property. Plow never went down that street this is unacceptable. No excuses the plows should still be out during the day when the snow softens and the plows can push snow back further off the highways. Mayor wake up and take a drive around on your own, and you don't need a driver.
RED DOG February 12, 2013 at 03:13 PM
John Maynard, you know what is really less productive driving up and down our highways with the plow up and not spreading any sand or salt. This was a very frequent observation. I suggest that the 1 plus million suddenly found by Finance Dept recently can be put back to bringing in more equipment or hiring more Public Work employees. With the tax increase we should not have had any diminshed services. The people are being deceived by the City
Sue P. February 12, 2013 at 03:36 PM
I'm in between Whitelsey and Perkins and we have been plowed out since Saturday night. Why would the plows not go 2 more feet and just do the dead end?If you guys on the dead end need help this afternoon we will come down and help plow our neighbors out. I thought they did the entire street, I can not figure why they would just stop and not finish it. We removed a huge pine tree ourselves so that the plows could get by. So no excuses of why they couldn't get down to the dead end.

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