NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As the Blizzard of 2010 slowed New York City to a screeching halt Monday, all eyes were on city service departments and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for help in digging the city out of the snow drifts and stalled subway cars, with a growing sense of frustration and chaos. The official response to the city's sixth-worst snowstorm on record -- or lack of response, according to some -- left the mayor with a PR problem. And the New York media were all over it.
The New York Daily News was quick to report the complaints of citizens in all boroughs about a lack of plowing in far-flung neighborhoods (up to 24 inches fell in the Bronx, and 22 in Brooklyn), slow or no response to service requests (as many as 1,300 less-urgent 311 calls went unanswered at the peak of the blizzard) and some punishing transit snarls.
In a Tuesday editorial, the Daily News slammed the Metropolitan Transit Authority for its too-little-too-late response to a stalled A train, which reportedly trapped hundreds of riders for more than seven hours after being crippled by a down third rail. "... Let the people off the train? Send buses to drive them up the line? Give them granola bars and bottles of water, along with complementary MetroCards for their trouble? Didn't happen," the piece read.
The Daily News wasn't alone -- the New York Times' coverage of the blizzard included citizens calling the city out for perceived favoritism in its snow plowing and its lengthy closure and slow reopening of all area airports, which canceled upwards of 5,000 flights and stranded untold thousands of travelers in wayward airport terminals all over the country and the world. Many will still have to wait days to get back to the New York area, one Times piece suggested today. By early this afternoon, all airports had reopened (though only La Guardia on a full schedule). Steve Coleman, Port Authority spokesman, defended the department's progress in the Times. "We have arrivals, we have departures, but we're still looking at a lot of cancellations." he said.
Not helping matters was an unflattering YouTube video clearly showing a city snow plow grinding into a parked SUV as it was pulled by a tow truck in Brooklyn Heights. The video was aired on CNN, reported on by a variety of news outlets and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people within hours.
Some managed to find opportunity in the chaos, though. New York Magazine posted about Newark Mayor Corey Booker, who used his Twitter feed to aid in and publicize his hand-on efforts to personally help citizens dig themselves out of snow-related quandaries.
Mayor Bloomberg addressed critics curtly in a briefing Monday. "The world has not come to an end," he said. "The city's going on. Many people are taking the day off. Most stores are open. Broadway shows were full last night. There are lots of tourists here enjoying themselves. On balance, I think you'll find we kept the city safe, and we're cleaning it up."