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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.

Randy Drummond February 11, 2013 at 04:50 PM
But Laura there is a whole department with a hugely overpaid director to track that. We call it Public Works. We are the second smallest physical municipality in the state. Yet our roads are in probable the worst condition in the state. Fact is it has never been this bad and the new part of the equation is Daryl and Tim Hanser, same plow drivers just different leadership. So you explain! Kathleen M. It would be the best thing that ever happened for the Daryl Town Committee to run Little Laura for city council. Put a slate of the children from the island of misfit toys up for all position. Sweep the GOP into office.
J. Scagnetti February 11, 2013 at 04:58 PM
You people are ridiculous , any chance you get to bitch and whine about this administration no matter what the article. It's so obvious that you guys have your own agenda and it has nothing to do with the situation at hand . My street hasn't been plowed yet either , but i'm not taking it personally , quit whining and grab a shovel. Randy Drummond ( if that's your real name ) all you do is try to start problems on every thread and use pathetic blanket statements and fear mongering. Sue P. you're a lemming.
Joe A February 11, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Do more with less. Cut the budget have less people doing the same amount of work. Work load increases something does not get done. Its not to hard to figure it out. This area has a hard time dealing with 6 inches of snow. Triple that and we are all in trouble.
Randy Drummond February 11, 2013 at 05:13 PM
J Scag... Did you read the mayors comment in the DAY? Did you see that he is way out of touch and the streets were not cleared yesterday? No one is doing this to the administration. They do this to themselves. It is great that you seem to be OK that your street is not plowed yet. Point is the mayor has to stop making foolish statements. the learning curve is over, it is time for him to lead or get out of the way. Stop making excuses for failures and lies. Accountability is what the voters and taxpayers want and deserve.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Many thanks to the resident with a snow plow who cleared my street! They dug out driveways and cleared the road to both sides. However, this morning a bucket loader (presumably sent by the City) showed up and dumped all of the snow in one section of the street onto a neighbor's lawn...then they left. They did that one section and left the rest. Strange.
Sue P. February 11, 2013 at 05:29 PM
You think I'm a little rodent? Why because I tell the truth? I don't even think you live in New London. I think you just sit at your computer and get off by calling people names. I was not complaining about my street not getting plowed, I was complaining that Laura never gets the facts straight. I have offered in the past to give anyone who wants them the receipts of Dept.s over spending. If you think it's ok for us to buy food and non uniform clothing for certain dept.s then you do that personally with your own money. You are a sheep that has nothing to add to any conversation but name calling. I'll take it step by step with you. Do you think it is okay to buy Red Sox hoodies instead of hiring more public works guys?
Dirk Langeveld February 11, 2013 at 06:30 PM
The way I see it, you're both name calling and you just picked different members of the animal kingdom. Knock it off.
Carol D. Fox February 11, 2013 at 06:49 PM
You guys need to take a deep breath and chill. In comparison with the storm of 1978, the streets have been cleaned a bit quicker. Not all the streets are in great shape. I have been out today and yesterday and there is a vast improvement from yesterday. I live on a road that the state plows and quite frankly they were'nt that much better. I understand from my Waterford friends that many of their streets have not been plowed that well either. There is a tremendous amount of snow out there. So everyone needs to chill. I am sure by the end of the day New London will be in much better shape than yesterday..
Randy Drummond February 11, 2013 at 06:49 PM
LB what did you expect the workers are still angry over the budget and that they did not get all that they want so they are taking it out on the taxpayers. If they beep biting the hand that feeds them they will soon be starved out. It is just time.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I'm just happy that the 'nice private individual' I mentioned came along and cleared my street. Quite honestly, I wish the City of New London would allow its citizens to do more than just pay taxes. If that nice person had been caught by the City, they would have been fined! All they did was *help* the City and the people who live near me. If I could fix my own sidewalk...think of the money I could save myself AND the City! Yes, I'd rather the City fixed it and that they did a good job plowing the streets but I'm willing to pitch in and help and I'll get for it is...crapola. Doesn't seem fair.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Sorry... I meant; "All I'll get for it is ____________".
katherine February 11, 2013 at 08:32 PM
I agree people need to stop all the Co.plaining and just maybe helpout with some good old muscle from their backs,legs, and hands and less verbal abuse. If it's to hot in the kitchen than GET OUT. Year after year the same old has been complainers keep complaining and bad mouthing our voted in Administration, if you're so unhappy, then maybe its time for some ofyou to retire to the palms or to the state of FL. But then again you would find fault wherever you live.
Clintmon February 11, 2013 at 08:35 PM
I'm glad not to have seen the plows. If you think you need a plow to be able to drive then please just stay off the road. Don't have a four wheel drive??? What??? Why??? Get one because we live in the northeast and it snows...often. That gravel crap they use chips my paint and the salt crap destroys my car. The plows always see fit to bury your car and or drive way without regard. Please stay off my street and outta my city.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Well, it's only been 35 years between the Blizzard of 1978 and the Blizzard for 2013. I think in that time one would be able to hope for some level of improvement and receive it.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Not all of us are as lucky as you. While I do have 2 four-wheel drive vehicles...my placement of employment was still closed today (2/11)...go figure. I guess its best to have cool heads behind four-wheel drive vehicles rather than...well...others. BTW it's not 'your' city.
Sue P. February 11, 2013 at 09:01 PM
So what you are saying is for us to keep our mouths shut and just pay the taxes, right? So if we see something you want us just to turn our heads and not say anything, right? So if we saw someone ripping you off we should just look the other way, right? That's not how this country is suppose to be run. Remember of the people for the people by the people. There is so much fraud going on in "Our City" it's crazy. If you don't want to know the truth there is plenty of snow you can shovel.
Sue P. February 11, 2013 at 09:07 PM
LB I just got the list of the best and worst streets in New London, mine is a 4,the worst all the way across the board. My street is on the list as one of the worst streets in New London and it won't get fixed for another 5 years. Coit St. which is on the list to get fixed is a 1 and a 2 which is in very good shape but they are getting fixed this year. Now about your street, well I hate to tell you but it's not even on the list. I don't think Tim Hanser even knows that your street exist. Typical New London, they are fixing things that are not broken and letting the things that are broken just pretend like they don't exist. They must all have the same mind set as Katherine.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 09:12 PM
@ Sue...pretty much. It's just 'shut up, sit down, pay your taxes and be a good little drone". That's all we get. Let's face it, if we don't do for ourselves the City of New London will simply sell us down the Thames River.
Lisa Beth February 11, 2013 at 09:15 PM
All I know is that the City of New London waited until my parents *died* before continuing to neglect the sidewalk and they're probably hoping the same for me. Joke's on them; I'm leaving the house to my kids who will continue to complain long after I'm gone! LOL
Sue P. February 11, 2013 at 09:52 PM
I'm at the point I just pretend I live in the country on a dirt road. I keep forgetting what my taxes pay for, horrible roads and horrible schools and unions that are against the people that pay their salaries. Oh yea and a administration that also works against the taxpayers instead of with them. Hopefully we can make a change this Nov.
John Maynard February 12, 2013 at 05:05 AM
Hi all, I know its been frustrating. My road did not get plowed till 7:30 pm tonight . Lets just try to remember our public works crew are doing the best they can with the man power they have. Lets not forget public works it short at the very least 10 employees. As for the Mayor and Tim they are doing the best they can. We did get 2 plus feet of snow so lets just all try to work together and help our neighbors. If we each help one neighbor we can make a different and make our sidewalks safe for the children who have to walk to and from school and safe for our seniors. Peace and blessings.
Kathleen Mitchell February 12, 2013 at 01:34 PM
John, I'm not sure I understand your point about public works being short ten employees as an explanation of some roads not being plowed. Do you mean that there are snow plows going unused because we don't have enough employees to drive them?
Jeff Brown February 12, 2013 at 02:07 PM
My street got plowed yesterday around 4:30 , even though that was a while to wait , considering the size of the storm, i'd definitely call that acceptable. I agree with J. Scagnetti, for some people, it's just playing politics to blast the mayor in every single article so they can get thier guy in next time. Pretty childish. Was great to see how many people were out helping each other during and after the storm . Definitely proud of my neighborhood.
CC February 12, 2013 at 02:15 PM
When driving around Waterford, Groton and New London...I found that New London is the slowest and least effective at removing snow from the streets. New London is the smallest of all 3 towns, yet is the last to get it's stuff together. Even Butlertown Rd in Waterford (the woods) was clear way before the city streets of New London. It also is very annoying that myself and my neighbors spent 6 hours shoveling in front of our homes on the odd side of the street, while the plows continued to build snow mountains on the even side. Where are we suppose park? My whole block was ticketed even though we completely cleared the street and the plow already came by and cleared what little snow was left on the odd side of the street. It is very annoying to see the same plow drive by several times with the plow up as we now attempt to break up and shovel the now 4 ft tall mountain of wet, heavy snow that the plows created on the even side of the street so we can park...even though the odd side is completely clear. New London at it's worse...as always.
John Maynard February 12, 2013 at 02:16 PM
No Kathleen My Point is there are not enough employees to do rotations on the plows. Hence long hours put in with not enough rest. Back in the day we had enough employees to swith off every ten hours. Which made the job a lot safer for plow drivers and residents.The longer hours you put in with out rest is less productive.
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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