NEW HAVEN--The Elm City was expecting, and ready for, up to 36 inches of snow. While New Haven received less than a third of that total, the city's preparedness hasn't been this evident in many years, according to Mayor Toni Harp.
Since last June, Harp says she and the city’s public safety agencies have been crafting the town's first snow removal plan in eight years. On Tuesday during a press briefing at the city’s Emergency Operations Center, the theme of togetherness was emphasized while describing the city’s response to the plan's first real test.
“Community leaders, families, neighbors, and our employees, in various departments, who serve the city, all worked together,” said Harp.
The mayor applauded many, including the Department of Public Works, which now has a 1,500-ton-per-hour snow blower at its disposal, along with nine state-of-the-art, brand new plows.
“The older trucks, we had a manual lever that we had to turn back and forth on and off and there was a lot of wasted material,” said Steve Mustakos, an 11-year employee of the New Haven Department of Public Works.
The efficiency of the new trucks becomes evident when attacking a storm of this magnitude. “We possibly would go through two to three loads of salt and sand,” said Jeff Pescosolido, the director of New Haven’s DPW. “We’re finding out, with the new vehicles that the city has purchased, one load will carry us through a storm.”
With nine new trucks, at approximately $250 per load, that’s saving the city between $2,250 and $4,500 per storm. These new trucks also have the ability to pre-treat roads, which makes plowing easier. Thus, overtime pay is also reduced.
Part of the city’s new snow removal plan was to educate residents about the costly consequences of not abiding by a parking ban. Apparently, the mission was accomplished. “Through the night, we were out driving through the city and it was amazing to see how many residents helped by moving their cars off the streets, into parking lots,” said Rick Fontana, the deputy director of New Haven’s Emergency Operations Center.
As of 11:30 Tuesday morning, roughly 300 cars had been ticketed and towed. Last year, during one of New Haven’s parking bans, that number reached nearly 450.
Keeping the homeless off of the streets in extreme weather is also a part of the plan. To achieve this, the city created more shelter options. “We were at full capacity last night,” said Fontana.
And, it’s a good thing that at least one business remained open during the height of the storm. The Dunkin Donuts at 291 Ferry Street served as a temporary safe haven for a family of four, which included two kids. A patron took notice that they had nowhere to go, so a call to 911 was made. With no room at any shelter, the homeless mother, father and their 8 and 10 year old children were taken to an accommodated by a hotel.