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N.Y. snowstorm response 'inadequate': mayor

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledges that the city's response to the blizzard that dropped 50 centimetres of snow was 'inadequate and unacceptable.'

New York  City Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged Thursday that the city's response to the blizzard that dropped 50 centimetres of snow was "inadequate and unacceptable" and said it would be reviewed, but he continued to be criticized.

At an event in Queens where Bloomberg gave an update on the cleanup to reporters, Queens borough president Helen Marshall took the microphone to say her residents need more help.

"Where is the plow?" she said.

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg answers questions about the snowstorm response Wednesday. ((Lucas Jackson/Reuters))

The city's cleanup efforts, which left streets covered in snow days after the storm had finished, "was slower than anyone would have liked," Bloomberg said.

He added, "Clearly the response to this storm has not met our standard or the standard that New Yorkers have come to expect from us."

The Sanitation Department has plowed every city street at least once, except for those blocks where abandoned cars blocked the way, and 1,600 plows were on the roads, he said. The last of the 600 stuck buses had been cleared, as had most of the abandoned cars, he said.

Asked what was different about the response to this storm as opposed to previous ones, Bloomberg said the approach had been the same.

"We went into this with the same plan, the same training if not better, the same resources if not more. The results were very different," he said. "That's what we're going to take a look at."

Sheldon Drake helps to push a car on a street yet to be plowed in the East New York section of the Brooklyn borough of New York on Wednesday. ((Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters) )

He said the city decided on Christmas to have workers come in the next day, when the blizzard hit, and that they had the staffing they needed. He denied that budget concerns kept the city from bringing in more resources.

"The budget had nothing to do with this. We thought we had an adequate number of people, an adequate … amount of equipment, and the right training."

The blizzard struck days before 100 Sanitation Department supervisors in charge of co-ordinating the plowing fleet were scheduled to be demoted in a budget-cutting move.

The timing of the demotions, scheduled for Jan. 1, ignited speculation that disgruntled supervisors had purposely sabotaged the snow removal effort in an act of revenge.

"I don't think it took place, but we are going to do an investigation to make sure that it didn't," Bloomberg said.

Sanitation commissioner John Doherty said he was also concerned but had seen no sign of such a move. The heads of the two unions that represent sanitation department supervisors and rank-and-file workers said the rumours were false and insulting.

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