City braces for snowstorm

Bystanders and emergency workers attempt to free an ambulance stuck on a side street in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn December 29, 2010 in New York City.  Many side streets, especially those in the outer boroughs, went unplowed in the wake of a massive snowstorm that crippled much of New York and left millions of holiday travelers stuck at airports and train stations around the eastern seaboard.  Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Bystanders and emergency workers attempt to free an ambulance stuck on a side street in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn December 29, 2010 in New York City. Many side streets, especially those in the outer boroughs, went unplowed in the wake of a massive snowstorm that crippled much of New York and left millions of holiday travelers stuck at airports and train stations around the eastern seaboard.
Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing his first challenge early on as a nor’easter bears down on the city just days into his mayoralty.

“It would have been nice to have a calm first day,” the mayor conceded, but insisted his administration is “focused like a laser” on preparing the city for an incoming snowstorm.

He recounted a visit to Department of Sanitation headquarters, and marveled at the “tremendous professionals” he met there. He said the city’s fleet of sanitation workers are “focused, ready, and have their game faces on.”

“It’s extraordinary how much is being done on the ground already,” he said.

Well-known for his love of Brooklyn, de Blasio promised the city’s outer boroughs would not be neglected, as they tend to be after storms.

“I have said through my recent experiences I believe that government should serve all five boroughs equally and that begins today,” de Blasio said.

In particular, he said parts of Queens and the Rockaways are already equipped for snow clearing.

The Department of Sanitation already has 450 salt spreaders loaded and ready to go to work on the 6,000 miles of street spanning the city, de Blasio said.

“6,000 miles,” he said, pausing for a moment and turning to the Sanitation Commissioner, John Doherty. “That’ll keep you up at night.”

Doherty is a holdover from the Bloomberg administration, as de Blasio has not yet named his replacement. FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano and Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Bruno have also stayed on to serve de Blasio until he appoints commissioners of his choosing. De Blasio has not said whether there is a chance they may keep their jobs.

The new mayor urged New Yorkers to check in on their neighbors, particularly senior citizens and the handicapped, and asked that anyone with connections to people living on the street urge them to go to one of the city’s shelters.

Standing in police headquarters, he added, “The NYPD does great work everyday trying to make sure everyone knows shelter is an option.”

Temperatures are expected to plummet overnight, accompanied by freezing wind chill factors.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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