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NYSID News Blog

February 9, 2016

Workers With Disabilities Help NYC Dig Out from Winter Storm Jonas

Category: General — NYSID @ 2:35 pm

To paraphrase the U.S. Postal Service’s unofficial motto, neither snow nor gloom of night stayed AHRC New York City workers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds when Winter Storm Jonas slammed the greater New York City metropolitan area and Long Island.

AHRC New York City crews spent days removing snow from MTA Woodside and other locations during Winter Storm Jonas.

In late January, Jonas pummeled New York City and Long Island with snow accumulations of historical proportions –– 26.5 inches of snow on average. The storm set an all-time record for daily snowfall in New York City; some areas, such as Queens, saw snowfall totals of 33 inches.

AHRC New York City responded to customer needs in coordinating, performing and assisting with snow removal. These customers included the New York City Transit Authority, New York City Department of Transportation Ferry and the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, among others.

New York City Council Member Fernando Cabrera joins Wildcat workers in removing snow from Bronx's District 14

Staff from AHRC New York City responded with professionalism and readiness, providing snow removal in all five boroughs from 9 p.m. on Friday, January 22 until 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, when the snow finally stopped. Blizzard conditions made it difficult even to use snow blowers at times, but employees worked diligently and expeditiously to remove snow and ensure public safety.

All told, 50 direct labor employees –– people supported through AHRC New York City programs and now working on agency contracts –– and supervisors provided 875 hours of snow removal services at 18 sites, including court houses, health clinics, bus depots and Park & Ride lots for MTA customers and buses. At least 60 percent of these direct labor employees were workers with significant disabilities, working hard alongside their peers and providing excellent service to customers, according to Steve Towler, AHRC New York City’s assistant executive director.

“One of the most amazing achievements was that, despite the travel ban and limited public transportation, everyone reported for their shift and work did not stop,” Towler said. “Workers were eager to be there, followed through on all guidelines and performed work according to AHRC’s Snow Removal Plan and training.”

Crews from American Maintenance and Carlstrom & Ritter shovel snow at Stony Brook University during Winter Storm Jonas

This hard work did not go unnoticed by customers.

Hon. Elizabeth Stong, who presides in United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, praised AHRC New York City workers for their extraordinary efforts, dedication and good spirits during Winter Storm Jonas.

“These kinds of efforts protect our building and ensure that the public and the people who work there have safe access to these buildings and a clear path to walk. They also make someone like me feel welcome and well taken care of as I come to work,” Judge Stong said. “Sometimes public service takes a robe, and sometimes it takes a shovel –– on that weekend, it took both!”

Douglas Patience, the U.S. General Services Administration’s senior property manager, emailed Marlon Mills, AHRC New York City’s project manager, to say, “Thanks Marlon! I hear you and your crew are doing a great job.”

“This was a storm for the records, and you guys responded professionally! Good job, guys!” wrote Tony Abdullah from the MTA Rail Control Center to Juan Guzman, an AHRC New York City regional manager.

Wildcat crew members likewise braved the elements during Winter Storm Jonas, as more than 50 workers cleared snow from doorways, driveways and sidewalks for 245 residences in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, according to David Saturn, director of facilities for Wildcat, a division of Fedcap.

In Brooklyn’s District 43, New York City Council Member Vincent Gentile urged residents to register with his office prior to the storm in order to receive snow removal services. Margaret Thompson, a resident of District 43, echoed the sentiments of many residents in a letter to Council Member Gentile.

Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn is clear of snow, thanks to the hard work and dedication of AHRC New York City crews

“My dad is 91 years old, has a pacemaker and suffers from severe arthritis. My sisters and I live an hour away. Hearing the sense of relief and happiness in his voice when he told me Wildcat crews had shoveled and salted his driveway was priceless,” Thompson wrote. “I truly and sincerely want to thank you for offering this valuable service to a very vulnerable population and for implementing it in an effective, professional and friendly manner!”

In the Bronx’s District 14, New York City Council Member Fernando Cabrera grabbed a shovel and helped Wildcat crews remove snow from residences in his district. “Wildcat is doing an outstanding job helping with snow removal for senior homeowners in District 14,” he said. “This is a much-needed service for a vulnerable population in our community, and I am proud to partner with this organization this winter.”

Five days after the storm, Wildcat teams were still working to clear snow from residences, as well as fire hydrants, intersections and bus stops throughout New York City.

At Stony Brook University, crews from American Maintenance and Carlstrom & Ritter also rose to the occasion in response to Winter Storm Jonas. Nearly 55 people, including 25 workers with disabilities, worked on snow removal during the storm, according to Chris Alex, American Maintenance’s president.

Joanne Catanese, a contract officer with Stony Brook University Hospital, reported that she and her colleagues were truly pleased with their snow removal service. “We were very impressed with how clear the parking lot was when we came in,” she said. “After Winter Storm Jonas, the snow removal was stellar.”

Kudos to our downstate NYSID member agencies for their efficient, exemplary response and providing calm during the storm, when the greater New York City metropolitan area and Long Island needed it the most.


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