Scenes from a Blizzard: The Day After

  • Sunset Park (Caroline Spivack)

The day after the city experienced its second worst snowfall ever, New Yorkers and their children played in the snow, dug out their buried cars, navigated slushy corners, went to church and slowly went back to business as usual. Here a few scenes from a blizzard’s aftermath:

Winterwonderland in Queens Park

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FOREST HILLS GARDENS, Queens — The sign outside Olivia Park in Forest Hills Gardens says “No Balls, No Bikes, No Barbeque.” But there were no rules Sunday as parents in the private neighborhood of Forest Hills Gardens took their kids to the park for a day of fun in the snow Scores of children lined up at the top of the park’s hill ready to sled, snowboard and snowball fight.

“We went to the park by our house, yesterday, but it was too snowy and cold so we went back in and then came out today,” said Jaci Flug, who came to the park with her husband, David and their two young daughters, Rachel and Abigail. “So far nobody’s crying so it’s a successful day.”

After the Flugs had finished up their day of play, Rachel was still excited about her big sledding achievement.

“I went to the top [of the hill] and went down all by myself,” the youngest Flug proudly declared.

For some other children, including 2 year-old Liam, Sunday marked their first sledding treks ever.

“He’s very excited,” said his father, Barry. “We didn’t go outside yesterday, so he’s really excited to get a chance to play in the snow.”

For Scott Gordon-Somers, who is the athletic director at the nearby Kew Forest School, it just felt nice to relax after the long, previous day.

“I realized too late [yesterday] that I didn’t have any milk and my kids didn’t have any marshmallows for their hot chocolate,” he joked. “So I went out, but every store was closed by 2:00 p.m., even Dunkin’ Donuts. I came back [empty-handed] and my kids weren’t happy and neither was my wife.”

For the Gordon-Somers clan as Scott, his wife and their two youngest sons, Daeden and Cairo, who slept in this snowy Sunday, Olivia Park is a special place. Daeden, 13, in fact, learned how to snowboard on the park’s very own hill.

“It’s really great for the kids to have a place like this,” Gordon-Somers said.

— Mary Kekatos

A Perfect Day to Buy Mittens, Waterproof Boots and… Sunglasses

WEST SIDE – The joggers, dog-walkers, cross-country skiers and daredevil adventure sledders were back at it in even greater numbers in Central Park Sunday a day after the city’s second biggest snowfall ever. But while the clear blue skies were a welcome sight, the intense sunlight reflecting off the well-packed snow was a painful blast to the eyes that drove more New Yorkers than usual through the doors of Lisa McQueen’s Sunglass Hut on 79th and Broadway.

“The glare from the sun can be very intense,” said McQueen, “so it’s good for us!”

Five customers had already walked into the narrow, eyewear-lined shop in the two hours it had been open, but that’s a crowd for McQueen. “Usually it takes a while for people to get going on a Sunday,” she said as two more customers walked through the door, “If it keeps going like this I’m happy, I’ve already met my goal for the day.”

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Another business that benefited from Storm Jonas’ droppings this weekend was The North Face store on 73rd and Broadway.

“We had a lot of kids’ ski pants last week,” said one cashier there, “and this week they’re all gone.”

“I see a lot more people coming in than previous weekends,” added the store’s security guard Ricardo, who also said that he noticed more people buying boots. Maybe the oceans of slush pooling on the curbs outside had something do with it.

David Roza

Meet…..Juiceman

HARLEM – Abdusalam Abajebel is not used to this much snow, but he found ways to enjoy it. Originally a refugee from Ethiopia, the owner of the Oasis Jimma Juice Bar in Harlem spent Saturday sledding in St. Nicholas Park. And on Sunday morning, he and his friend Ania Swiergal built an original snowman outside the juice bar. They dubbed him, “Juiceman.”

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“We cleaned a little bit and we had the idea to make a snowman instead of wasting the snow!” said Abajebel.

Juiceman features a mouth made of ginger, kale hair, and celery sticks for arms. Students and residents passed by the snowman, grinned and took quick photos with their phones. A few ventured into the shop, following the celery. Most bought hot drinks.

“This place is to present freshness. We have the best fresh food, fruits, vegetables, like where I’m from,” Abajebel said. He started his small business two years ago.

Abajabel’s friend Swiergal considers herself a “big fan” of the establishment. “In the winter, it’s hard to sell juice as it is. We decided to have fun. Juice man points out that we’re open,” she said, a smoothie in her hand. “Abi has some pretty loyal people coming here. And he does so much for the community.”

The community certainly took notice. By early evening, someone had set up a mini-Juiceman next to the original.
Sarah Betancourt

Opportunity in the Blizzard: Door to Door Deliveries

SOUTH BRONX — In the aftermath of the big storm, the streets were mostly empty but for snow-lovers, food hunters, and those who had to work. Most businesses closed shop. But others, of course, saw an opportunity for profit, selling and delivering snowstorm essentials for New Yorkers, including alcohol, comfort food, or that perfect movie. Or in some cases, maybe, drugs. At least that is the story told by a man we met who wanted to be called Chinx.

Chinx, who for obvious reasons didn’t want to use his full name, said he saw opportunity making door-to-door deliveries to his clients in the South Bronx where he was born and raised.

“You know, they say a lot of people missed out on a lot of money ‘cause of the snow. People didn’t go out to work for whatever reason. I sell drugs so I couldn’t let that stop me. Nobody else got it and nobody else coming out at that time. In that weather, I get to charge people whatever I want,” said Chinx.

Chinx said he basically charged double for everything, responding to non-stop texts and trekking through the snow all hours from day to night, always with his headphones on to get “in the zone.”

“I had a gun with my big coat on ‘cause everyone’s running around with their face masks on and it’s not really safe,” he said. “At night-time, it’s totally a different world – it’s scary around here at night-time, and that’s coming from somebody that – I grew up here my whole life and this shit still scares me.”

On his way home, Chinx, who said he lived in the Dominican Republic some time before coming to New York City, said he stopped to chat with a friend who recounted how he paid a crackhead $5 to shovel his car out of the snow that afternoon. Nearby Chinx’s old junior high school in the area is St. Mary’s Park, where blobs of puffy bright-colored jackets could be seen sledding down newly converted bunny hills Sunday afternoon.

Surrounding the park are what Chinx calls “gun lines” that he describes as tensely defined borders between different projects in the neighborhood. Amidst the white wonderland backdrop of children playing in the snow and neighbors cleaning the streets, Chinx’s stories sounded far away in time, but then there were also physical testaments including scars on his face and the name of his best friend who was shot to death inscribed on his skin.

He asked to be referred to as Chinx, his favorite rap artist.
–Lana Lee

Homeless but Looking at the Bright Side

UPPER WEST SIDE – Sitting by mounds of snow near the subway entrance at 86th street, Darryl Cooke, clad in a thick wool coat and fur hat, held up a board asking for help.

It was only the day after Snowstorm Jonas hit New York City with 26.8 inches of snow but Cooke had to be back on the street doing what he does every day – begging for money.

“Because I’m broke and I need to have money so that I can get something to eat,” said Cooke.

Darryl Cooke

Cooke is a resident of Capitol Hall – a supportive housing program that provides single room occupancy units for people who are vulnerable to homelessness because of their age, income or disability. He has no family or friends to take care of him. On top of that, the meager support he gets could barely sustain his living expense.

“I only get $91 dollars and 50 cents every two weeks from public assistance,” he said.

After a recent double abdominal hernia repair surgery, Cooke is not allowed to work, which he says has cut off his only source of income. Nor can he lift heavy stuff, a limitation that has prevented him from visiting a pantry down the street to carry food items back to his room.

Cooke always sits in the same spot and goes home after he gets what he needs for the day. His goal Sunday was to collect $10 dollars. Early in the afternoon, he was still far from reaching that amount. But he remains positive.

“Everything happens for a reason, you just got to deal with the cards that you are given,” he said. Seems he always looks at the bright side: The blizzard Saturday disrupted his daily ritual, but he says he doesn’t mind the snow. “I like it,” he added, “because we don’t have it back home in South Carolina.”

Vicky Huang

Of Light and Shadows

PROSPECT PARK, Brooklyn – As Brooklynites poured into Prospect Park Sunday with sleds, snowshoes and skis after more than two feet of snow blanketed the city Saturday, the Long Meadow, the nation’s longest stretch of un-interrupted urban meadow, was packed with people enjoying what the blizzard wrought.

But for Eugene Gladun, the day was more about capturing the New York moment than being in the thick of it.

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“It’s rare to get a day when it’s nice outside to paint but there’s also snow,” he said. Gladun, who paints as a hobby, wandered the park for 30 minutes before he perched himself on a hill overlooking those playing in the snow. After two hours, a soft snow scape emerged on his 8×10 canvas.

“I just look for something that excites me, that might be the way the light falls on something or shadows,” he said. “In this case, I like that I can see the trees and the building in the background, but also the people so it gives you a sense that you’re in the city and somewhere else.”

Caroline Spivack

Bagpipe Blizzard Blues

WEST SIDE – As pedestrians slowed to maneuver around the slush and over the mountains of greying snow, the sound of bagpipes drifted around the 72nd street metro stop down the street.

“I’m not letting the weather get me down,” Malcolm Moray, the grey-whiskered bespectacled bagpipe player with 40 years of experience, said in between songs.

At his usual “gigs;” weddings, funerals and sometimes bars, Moray plays a wood-piped custom-made bagpipe. But Sunday he came prepared for the slushy weather with a polypenco plastic bagpipe that he said was “virtually indestructible.” While the snow didn’t have an effect on Moray’s bagpipe, it might have had an effect on the open bag in front of him.

“On a good summer’s day I’ll make $200 or more,” said Moray. “Today I’ll be surprised if I make more than $50.”

— David Roza

Snow Can’t Keep Churchgoers Away

RIVERSIDE DRIVE – The travel ban on vehicles was lifted just in time for churchgoers to attend Sunday service at the iconic Riverside Church in upper Manhattan. The church was one of several that opened their doors Sunday morning, despite Winter Storm Jonas’s aftermath.

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Dressed in layers, Linda LeShanna and Sandy Thomas arrived shortly before the 10:45 a.m. service. Although they normally drive to church, LeShanna said the car was buried in snow, so they walked from their apartment at 97th Street and Central Park West and caught a bus on Broadway.

“We got a whole New York bus to ourselves,” Thomas said. “Our limo bus.”

Carlos Watson, who came from midtown Manhattan, rode an Access-A-Ride van to church. He said his driver, Juliette Darius, took a route that other drivers don’t take, and he got to church in the same amount of time as any other Sunday without the snow.

Darius said that her passengers were cancelling “left and right,” except for Watson. She compared last year’s cleanup to this year, which she said was better because the main roads were clear and the snow was piled at the sidewalks.

“I gotta drive more cautiously than usual. It’s a little skiing here and there, but no biggie, it’s the snow. I’m used to it,” Darius said.

The church did make one concession, said Riverside Church security officer Rawchaa Drayton. Sunday’s service was held in the chapel instead of the nave, the main worship space, where it usually takes place.

“The snow has not deterred the worshippers of God by no way,” Drayton said. “The more snow came, the more determined they are to worship.”

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Around the corner from the church entrance, Union Theological Seminary student Lee Sartain stood by his Grand Cherokee, which was surrounded by snow about four or five feet deep. A member of the Columbia University Senate, he was scheduled to attend a meeting but had to cancel after digging the snow out from around his car for an hour and 15 minutes this morning. Sartain expects that the shoveling will take him another two hours or so.

“You definitely want to get it dug down before it starts to melt otherwise all the water goes into your car,” Sartain said. “Maybe I’ll go sledding when I’m done.”

— Natasa Bansagi and Samantha McDonald

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