The great Boxing Day Blizzard of 2010 (sixth largest snowfall in NYC history) finally ran out of steam on Monday, December 27, late in the morning, and everyone was boxed-in! Rockaway residents began to shovel out their driveways…and their sidewalks…and their side streets. Woe to those without a private plow or snow-blower on the block. It was so hard to get around on the streets that The Wave didn’t even open. That’s rare. So I headed out of the house on foot to take some photos.
I was interested in comparing this snowstorm to the rather memorable series of NYC weather events during the winter of 1995-96. I recall very well how the snow from those storms accumulated; we just kept shoveling it to the side of the walkways until the pile in front of my in-laws’ house on Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Neponsit was almost 5 feet tall! Of course, it didn’t help that the snowplows going up and down the boulevard kept pushing it out of the street and onto the sidewalk, over and over again!
I am happy to report that today’s storm, while significant, was a “piker” compared to the ones in 1995-96. Still, most west-end blocks remained impassable as of 3 p.m., and the Sanitation Department snowplows had only lightly smoothed out the drifts on the main east-west arteries. I saw a small white DEP pickup truck fitted with a plow, apparently trying to clear snow away from the sewers.
Just like the New Jersey freeways, the divided roadway of Rockaway Beach Boulevard that passes through Belle Harbor and Neponsit was a tableaux of cars, abandoned like so many sand pails at the beach.
Somehow, the food delivery trucks got through to Beach 129 Street, where a few stores had opened for business so everyone could come out and get some meat!
A shovel patrol was needed at the intersection of Newport and Beach 129 Street, to dig out a Boar’s Head truck that had gotten stuck. A short time later, another meat delivery vehicle was parked on the shopping street, when a little white car got stuck next to it. Finally, the driver of a Toyota Corolla came barreling down the block, and it was starting to look like a Laurel and Hardy movie, as he was about to get boxed-in, as well!
The sidewalk shoveling trends were interesting. On some blocks, inertia (or was it common sense?) took hold and only a few neighbors bothered to clear a path, so pedestrians were forced to backtrack and head for the street in order to pass through. There were other places, like the 200 block of Beach 130 Street and the 400 block of Beach 128 Street, where everyone came outside to shovel the sidewalks and clear away snow from the fire hydrants, as if it were a block party.
Both of the blocks mentioned above were notable in that the sidewalks were cleared almost from end to end, while the street remained almost completely covered with snow! You don’t see that too often…
Another thing you don’t see often is a riveting news story involving Rockaway that captures the attention of the entire city–unless it’s a negative story! Kudos to the MTA for allowing 500 passengers (many just in from JFK Airport) to remain stranded overnight on an A train on the tracks out on Jamaica Bay without power to the third rail. This story was deemed important enough that it even made the U.S. network news this evening. Nothing like a warm welcome for visitors to New York! Now the whole world knows what daily commuters from the peninsula put up with on a regular basis!
Don’t you love snow days? They are a great chance to catch up on everything you make excuses not to do the other 363 or so days a year when we don’t have two feet of snow on the ground!