Winter Storm Jonas Journal

Tales from a Blizzard

Grand Total: 26.8 inches

CENTRAL PARK, 10 p.m. — As Winter Storm Jonas wound to a close, the National Weather Service said it dumped a total of 26.8 inches of snow on the city. It will be recorded as the second highest amount of snow that fell on New York City since 1869. JFK got more–30.5 inches. Let the clean up begin.

Third Biggest Storm Since 1869

CENTRAL PARK – 7:30 p.m. — With 25.1 inches of snow on the ground in Central Park, the National Weather Service announced that this is now the third biggest snowfall in the city since 1869. That was 147 years ago.

And the snow keeps coming. It’s not expected to taper off until well after midnight. Previous record-holding snowstorm: the 26.9 inches that fell in the park back in February of 2006. Will we beat it?

Shovel Like a Pro

UPPER WEST SIDE, Saturday 6 p.m. – It’s dark and cold outside. Transportation has been suspended. A few New Yorkers on the road are rushing to head home but many snow shovelers are on the way to start their last round of shoveling for the day.

“Today we started at 8 in the morning. I’m doing my last round,” said Jorge Salazar, the owner of a building maintenance company. An architect and interior designer, Salazar takes up snow shoveling every winter as a way to make some extra money.

Jorge Salazar

Shoveling snow is strenuous physical work. To shovel in the blizzard is particularly taxing and even dangerous. As of Saturday, three New Yorkers have died shoveling snow, according to the NYPD.

Salazar always makes sure to build up his strength for a day of shoveling. “The night before, I get a good night’s rest, then I eat a lot of pasta and tuna, you know I see it like a workout,” Salazar said.

Originally from the subtropical country of Colombia, Salazar isn’t really fond of the snow. But through years of experience he has accumulated tricks and techniques that are important to prevent harms and injuries that often occur during snow shoveling.

“”You can’t really stress it out. You gotta be careful with your back, when you do the shoveling, you actually have to use your knees,” he said. ”The one thing that people need to know is, come in with some layers, you know your hands, head, everything. When my feet get wet, I’m done. Because that’s pretty bad and you start to get cold.” Salazar added.

“And what I suggest is that when you have snow for your property or your home, take it out as soon as possible, because the next day, it’s going to become ice.”

Vicky Huang

Snowing in the Subway

BAY RIDGE, Brooklyn, 4 p.m. — Passengers who got off at the Bay Ridge Avenue stop on the R Saturday afternoon were greeted with three inches of snow – on the underground subway platform.

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“I’ve never seen this before,” said Donna Addiu, a Bay Ridge resident who was headed deeper into the neighborhood to check in on a pregnant friend. “It’s definitely a hazard and I’m avoiding it, and anyone who is smart would try to.”

But those unable to skidded across the platform as snow drifting through subway grates piled up in the station. One man nearly slid into the train tracks but declined to comment. There were signs that MTA workers had shoveled the station in the past, but not recently.

“I don’t think they can keep up,” Addiu said. “We can’t even keep up with the front of our house and that’s such a little space.” Caroline Spivak

Snow Doesn’t Slow Down Die-hard Fitness Fans

CHELSEA, Saturday afternoon — The epic snow blizzard didn’t scare away spinning fanatics in Chelsea Saturday. Despite the rapidly falling snow, newly-opened SoulCycle Chelsea’s classes saw more riders than usual, said Cristina Dueno, who works at the front desk of the spinning studio.

Equinox’s workout floor also saw more people than normal—almost double the customary amount, said fitness instructor Billy Kowell.

“I’ve never seen it this busy,“ said one gym-goer.

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Jerry Salerno, assistant general manager at the Equinox Highline in Chelsea, wasn’t surprised. The luxury gym’s staff, in fact, prepared for it and ramped up manpower to accommodate traffic Saturday.

Salerno, who commutes from the Jersey Shore, slept at the Equinox Highline last night to ensure that the club was open and that the snow on the sidewalk outside was plowed. He plans on doing the same Saturday night.

“I think it’s a New York thing,” SoulCycle’s Dueno said of the drive to workout in the inclement weather. “We feel guilty for staying at home because we’re usually so busy. New Yorkers just can’t sit still.”

Fitness enthusiasts relish these rare days in which much of the city is shut down, and travel is sparse, the fitness instructor and manager said.

“You’re not a slave to your boss today,” Equinox’s Kowell added.

As of Saturday evening, Winter storm Jonas buried New York City in almost 19 inches of snow–and it was expected to keep coming down until after midnight. Earlier in the day, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a state of emergency and Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a travel ban of non-emergency vehicles for the five boroughs.

“We’re not going to let little roadblocks stop us,” Salerno said. “I’m a gym rat. This is what we do when it’s nasty out.”

— Gunjan Banerji

Non-Stop Pizza on Long Island

WANTAGH, N.Y. 2 p.m. – While the streets emptied and stores closed along Wantagh Avenue as winter storm Jonas blanketed Long Island in more than a foot of snow, one pizza place hunkered down for the long haul.

Anthony Suppa and Joseph Belfiore, co-owners of Oregano Joe’s, an Italian restaurant in the Nassau County town of Wantagh., said they wouldn’t let Jonas stop them from running their business, or even stop their pizza deliveries. With the help of two Jeeps, Suppa and Belfiore made deliveries Saturday themselves.

And while they say that staying open is just good business sense, they also see it as a community service.

“You have some people that obviously can’t get to the grocery stores, they can’t get to the supermarkets,” Suppa said. “So we don’t mind going out in it and helping people, you know, giving back also. It’s not a problem for us.”

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Processed with VSCO

At 1:45 p.m., about 45 minutes ahead of the city wide travel band that extended to Long Island, Oregano Joe’s was empty, just like the streets outside, and the phone had been mostly quiet all day. Full pizza pies sat on the counter underneath lit glass displays. Suppa and Belfiore had spent the day getting the restaurant in working order and cleaning off the sidewalk in front of the store. Belfiore said that they expected an influx of deliveries around dinnertime.

“Definitely the snow will take a toll,” Belfiore said. But he wasn’t worried. “A lot of our customers live pretty local, we have trucks. It shouldn’t be too, too bad getting around.”

Other local restaurants were still weighing things out Saturday afternoon. Across the street, at the Prince Umberto’s pizzeria, employees didn’t have the aid of trucks to ensure safe travel. Owner Antonio Allocca said that, like Oregano Joe’s, business had been quiet, and he was thinking about shutting down early, depending on how business went. He said that staying open was entirely dependent on whether they could make deliveries. When asked if he thought they could pull it off, he was cautiously optimistic. “We could try,” he said.

Carlos Duran, and employee at Prince Umberto’s, said that if they were getting calls and needed to make deliveries, he wouldn’t be frustrated with having to brave the cold weather.

“We gotta work for a living,” he said. “We’re not forced to work today.”

— James Farrell

A Perfect Time to Play and Feed the Wildlife

CENTRAL PARK, Saturday afternoon — Many energetic New Yorkers braved the fierce winds and heavy snows of Storm Jonas Saturday, despite the mayor’s pleas to stay indoors, so they could sled down the new slopes, check out the winter wildlife, and pose for pictures in Central Park.

“I never get tired of coming back here,” said urban naturalist Ken Chaya as he took a break from throwing peanuts to a gaggle of cardinals and white-throated sparrows on the south side of the Great Hill. “There’s always something fascinating to learn.”

Chaya takes tour groups through the park, where he helped create a map of all the major trees. With a plastic-wrapped pair of binoculars strapped to his chest, Chaya explained to three passersby how the snowfall made it difficult for the birds to access the tiny insects and most of the seeds that they normally eat.

“So they’re limited to seeds from wildflowers and shrubs;” he said, as a sparrow perched on a frail yellow branch. “They like those plants like goldenrod, which they can find above the snow.”

naturalist

To make things more difficult for the birds, Chaya’s peanuts were suddenly swept up by another creature out in force in Central Park: a dog!

“This is their first time seeing snow!” said Bali Rodriguez as she walked her three dogs Sky, Moon and Cloud to the windswept top of the Great Hill. All four of them moved to New York City from Costa Rica just last year. “I hope I don’t get a ticket for letting them off the leash,” said Rodriguez, a model who has posed for Avon Mascara and Pierre Cardin Lingerie. “But I don’t see many people out here.”

A few seconds later, the two Australian cattle dogs and one jack russell terrier (all three rescued from a shelter) were off and away, looking like furry dolphins as they propelled their little bodies up, across, and up again through the thick white fluff.

Others were in the park for more serious tasks. Trudging through the blizzard in a puffy white jacket with a New York Botanical Garden bag slung over her shoulder, a woman named Olga from Spanish Harlem made her way to The Pool near 101st street. A flock of ducks floated in the cold waters of The Pool, separated from shore by a crust of thin ice.

Approaching the shore, Olga took two large cans of Quaker Oats out of her bag and upended their contents onto the ice. The ducks paddled over to feast.

“It doesn’t matter how much you bring,” said Olga as the ducks squabbled for oats. “It’s never enough.” Olga started feeding the ducks here during a blizzard last winter, when she saw something she would never forget.

“I saw hundreds of ducks who looked like they were starving,” she said. “I was crying…someone’s got to take care of these birds.”

Olga realized she can’t feed all of the ducks in the park, which is why she focuses on giving the ducks in The Pool oats or corn or whatever her parrots at home don’t eat. “These are my ducks,” she said.

Olga didn’t stay long to watch the ducks. She continued west across the park as watchful naturalists, energetic dog-walkers and sledding children all made moments that will stay frozen in pictures and memories long after the roads are cleared and the snow has turned to slush.

— David Roza

A Dog Day Afternoon

RIVERSIDE PARK– It was Honey’s first snow. And her owners, Lisa Kirsten and Adina Gerwin, 11, weren’t quite sure how to handle it. So Honey was given a pair of rubber boots for her paws and a warm blue blanket with a hope that it would be enough.

“We’re bad dog owners. We don’t know what to do,” Kirsten said. “People have serious stuff on their dogs. They’ve got the whole wardrobe.”

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Not all dogs sported winter wear, some didn’t wear any boots at all. As Huck dove headfirst into snow drifts, his owner Laura Thompson, who lives in Central Harlem, explained that she could not find a pair that were big enough for him. “And I’m sure he would put up a fight if I tried to put anything on his feet [anyway],” she said.

Another dog, 14-year-old Tasha, a Shetland sheep dog, would be romping in the snow, too, if it wasn’t for his arthritis. His owner, Kim Bonnell, said she took him out for a snow shower instead of giving him a real bath. “He’s out here enjoying the snow in his old age,” Bonnell said as she snapped a picture of him to send to her son who lives outside the city. “His top coat pretty much sheds the snow. He is well defended and very happy.”IMG_9448

Snow defense is not an issue for Ella, either, who wasn’t wearing a coat or boots. “She doesn’t need it. She’s a mutt, but we think she’s a retriever and husky mostly,” her owner Bill Hawkins said, pointing to her feet that were clearly padded with fur. They were heading back after about an hour of snow time in Riverside Park and they said they would probably be back again for two or three more walks for Ella before the storm is over. “She [just] loves the snow,” said Hawkins daughter, Angelica, 16.

Aditi Sangal

Hard Walking in the Snow? Try Riding a Bike

UPPER WEST SIDE, 3:30 p.m. – The buses stopped running at noon, the streets were supposed to be clear of all vehicles by 2:30 p.m. and the subway will stop running at 4. But slowly cycling through the blizzard on Amsterdam Avenue, with a Domino’s pizza bag attached to the back of his bike, is Magloere Natoulli, 22.

Riding in the Snow

“It’s very hard. It’s horrible. I hate it. But I’ve got to do it,” he says. He’s been on this bike since morning and he is not too thrilled about it. “The worst part is riding this goddamn bike! I’ve fallen off three times today- it ain’t fun, let me tell you,” he continues. But even after he makes the delivery journey, it’s not all smooth sailing- “After the horrible bike ride, you’ve got to wait outside for the person to come and pay you. Sometimes it’s five minutes, sometimes it’s 20.”

Has there been anything rewarding about delivering pizza on a bike during the blizzard? “The first customer didn’t even give me a tip! I thought working on a day like this would get me some extra cash,” he adds. He’s got four more deliveries to make before he can go back home. “I just don’t want to fall off my bike again because next time, I might actually break a limb.”

Around 2 p.m., Radip Shreshtha, 29, the manager of Roti Roll on 109th and Amsterdam Avenue for the past ten years, had to stop deliveries, a rare thing for the eatery. “I’m sorry, we just took our last order. We’re closed for the day,” Shreshtha told a customer who walked in and ordered a Chicken Makhani roll.

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Usually on a Saturday, Roti Roll is open until 4 a.m. “We were planning on being open as usual today. Even during Hurricane Sandy, we remained open and everything was running as usual. But this looks worse than we thought,” he says. “I got told that none of my delivery men were going to make it.”

V & T Pizzeria on 110th and Amsterdam Avenue, a bit down the block isn’t delivering either, on wheels, that is. “We’re not doing any bike deliveries- only on foot, so we’re taking orders that are walking distance which means three or four blocks from our restaurant,” says Alex Gjojal, 65.

He’s been running the restaurant for the past 40 years and each year, it’s the same delivery policy when the snow hits- delivery men on foot. “I have two delivery men right now.” When asked if NYCity Lens could talk to them, Gjojal laughed, “Well they’re not happy with me right now, so no you can’t!”

Then he took a call for another delivery and as the customer finished ordering, Gjojal quickly added, “Please remember to tip generously, our delivery men are walking through feet of snow to make sure you get your pizza in time.”

— Krutika Pathi

Mayor to New Yorkers: Stay Home, Up to 25 Inches on the Way

2:05 p.m. — NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a travel ban beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. In an unexpected turn of events after initial forecasts predicted 12 inches of snow, the mayor announced that the city is anticipating 20-25 inches. With MTA buses already halting service at noon, the ban calls for all vehicular traffic to be off of New York City streets for an army of plows to get to work.

“We need cars off the road so that our equipment can do its work and keep streets passable for emergency vehicles,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Travel conditions are dangerous, and we want to keep all New Yorkers safe until this storm passes.”

McCarthy_Outside-MTA-Manhattanville-Bus-Depot

According to the NYC Sanitation Department, over 2,500 plows are at work to clear roads across the five boroughs. The mayor said that police will strictly enforce the ban. Anyone found on city streets will either face a heavy fine or points off their license.

The massive blizzard has forced the city to come to a standstill. Metro-North, LIRR and elevated subway lines will begin to shut down at 4 p.m. The NYPD has already responded to 200 accidents and hundreds of New York flights have been canceled. Most recently, Broadway theaters have canceled all Saturday performances.

With snow in Central Park having accumulated over 12 inches already, the mayor declared that the blizzard will go down as one of the worst in city history. A blizzard warning is in effect for all of NYC until Sunday, January 24, at 7 a.m.

“Things may not be back to normal on Monday if we get 25 inches, even 30 inches,” the mayor said. “Even the best sanitation department will have a hard time covering it.”

All of Mayor de Blasio’s future press conferences will be featured here: http://www1.nyc.gov/

— Mary Kekatos

Weather Emergency: We’re in For a Big One

1:30 p.m.: All non-emergency vehicles are banned from the city’s roads as of 2:30 p.m. Bus service has stopped; Long Island Railroad, Metro North and elevated subway trucks due to shut down. Photo tweeted by the governor’s office says it all:
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City Stops Buses at High Noon

Noon: It’s official. New York City is under a winter weather emergency. As of noon, the MTA has announced that it will stop the city’s bus service until further notice. Mayor De Blasio says this might end up as one of the top five winter storms in the city.

Mid-day in Midtown

Not Even a Blizzard Will Change this Bodega’s Tune

Michael-Vincent Crea and service dog Spivack

Michael-Vincent Crea and service dog Spivack

 

BAYRIDGE, Brooklyn — When Michael-Vincent Crea, who is disabled, stepped into a Bay Ridge bodega on Saturday morning, the last thing he expected was to be kicked out into a blizzard because of his dog.

Crea, who was waiting for the S79 to take him to Staten Island, entered the Deli & Beer on 4th Avenue and 86th Street to buy a coffee with his dog, Teranga, a golden retriever that Creas relies on to help him walk. When the cashier noticed his dog, he told Crea that his dog was not allowed and that the pair needed to leave.

Crea explained that he is disabled and finds it difficult to walk without Teranga, but the store’s employees were unsympathetic and eventually kicked Crea and his dog out into the snow.

Service-Dog-Teranga_Spivack

“The most disconcerting, disappointing thing that took place is that three of the other people who were waiting for the bus here began to attack me not knowing the law, telling me I should leave,” Crea said outside of the bodega.
Under New York law, businesses that serve the public may not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Businesses are required to permit a service animal in all areas where customers are typically allowed.

A cashier that works at the bodega said that Crea was told the dog was not allowed and declined to comment further.
“We don’t know our own laws and we don’t respect one another,” he said. “Teranga is my ambassador for people with disabilities who are dissed.”

In August, Crea got Teranga from a puppy farm in upstate New York and named her for the Wolof word, a West African language, for respect and hospitality. Cera has worked as a pastor for the last 25 years and runs a human rights group, called One World Life System.

“All people are equal, all people have abilities and all living beings need to be afforded access.” Crea said.
Caroline Spivack


Before the Storm 2: Coat Drive in Full Gear as Blizzard Approaches

UPPER WEST SIDE, January 22 — Forecasts of a foot of snow and freezing temperatures prompted the company in charge of 73rd West 108th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side to run a charitable coat drive Friday. In the basement.

Local charity groups donated winter wear to the Manhattan Valley Management Company to pass on to its tenants and piles of coats – all shapes and sizes – transformed the basement Friday afternoon from an administrative office to a winter wardrobe.

The group ran coat drives last year also to great success and there has been high demand for more this year too.

“Many of our resident are elderly, on government assistance and typically they might wear the same coat for 10 or 15 years. They’re tattered, they’re torn and they just don’t have the money to purchase new coats every year. Some of us are used to that luxury, but many of us are not,” said Robin Pace, the management company’s director.

Staff members said they were prepared for the blizzard. The building supers filled the snow blowers and boilers up with fuel, they said. Even those not meant to be working were on call to help.

“I’ll be just a phone call away,” said intern director Babacar Ba.

— Jack King


Before the Storm: Volunteers Get Ready to Help Homeless

EAST HARLEM, January 22 –As Winter Storm Jonas barreled toward the city Friday, Clark Pena, director of inter-governmental affairs for the Latin American Chaplains Association, tried to get ready to help the homeless in the area confront the snow and the cold.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Pena, “to know that with my small grain of salt and with my members and with my bishop, we [can] make a difference.”

Pena walked through the streets of East Harlem, shaking hands and warning locals about the upcoming harsh weather. He said that he hoped more people will be inspired to help, especially young people, because even the homeless are community members.

“They are our homeless neighbors,” said Pena. “They just don’t have a place to be. So we have to take care of them. We have a duty to take care of them.”

The group planned to go out and offer warm food, blankets, gloves and socks to the homeless around East Harlem on Saturday. Although the group does not force people living on the street to go to shelters, Pena said that his organization works with the mayor’s office and will help any people who want to get off the street.

Other community members and leaders say they think highly of the work Pena is doing.

“This is necessary in every community, not just East Harlem because the homeless problem is everywhere in New York City,” said John Ruiz, East Harlem district leader. “It’s important when an organization can come out and augment the mayor’s office of homeless services and come out and give a helping hand to those who need it.”

Justine Miller

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