Outer boroughs feel forgotten as streets remain unplowed

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HOLLIS, Queens — Patience was running thin in Queens Monday morning as residents ventured into the aftermath of this weekend's blizzard to find mounds of snow, trapped cars and barely passable streets.

"No one's saying 'mission accomplished' around here," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a midday news conference Monday. "We're saying a lot of good work happened."

Dozens of viewers have called PIX11 News Monday to report their streets still unplowed and impassable, from Middle Village to Jamaica and Woodhaven.

Saying different neighborhoods in Queens "had different realities," de Blasio said the borough is the city's priority Monday. He also lauded the work of thousands of sanitation employees who have been scouring the streets since snow started falling Friday night.

Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told PIX11 News there's still work to do in the city's largest borough -- which was also hardest hit, with some 30 inches falling at Kennedy Airport -- but crews are starting to haul away the powder in dump trucks.

"There is literally nowhere to put it and that's true across the city," she said, calling the amount of snow that fell "tremendous."

Acknowledging that it may not be possible for all, Garcia discouraged residents from digging out their cars because that snow is being put back into the street and negating the work done by plows. Alternate side parking has been canceled through Feb. 1.

The weekend blizzard was the second-hardest to hit the city in recorded history, dumping almost 3 feet of snow in parts of the five boroughs. Queens was especially pounded and snow fell at a rate that the plows couldn't keep up with, about 3 inches per hour.

"We immediately moved extra equipment into Queens when we felt we were falling behind yesterday morning," Garcia said.

"We made a lot of progress overnight, so I’m confident, I think by the end of today we’ll have those streets open," she added.

According to the city's sanitation department, 850 plows were devoted to Queens Sunday with that figure climbing to 920 plows on Monday. But residents said more than a day after the snow stopped falling, the streets are treacherous -- and schools are open, creating problems for parents, students and teachers trying to navigate the icy, slushy mess.

Those school openings, a decision by de Blasio, spurred the creation of an online petition calling for a snow day. As of Monday morning, the petition on Change.org had garnered nearly 42,000 signatures, but classes remained in session.

"We make one decision for a school system of 1.1 million kids," de Blasio said, defending the move to keep class in session.

The aftermath of Blizzard 2016 in Hollis, Queens, where residents are furious Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, that the streets are treacherous -- and the schools are open. (Photo: PIX11 News)

The aftermath of Blizzard 2016 in Hollis, Queens, where residents are furious Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, that the streets are treacherous -- and the schools are open. (Photo: PIX11 News)

Residents in the Bronx also complained Monday about being forgotten by the plows.

Garcia told New Yorkers to call 311 with their complaints as the agency is "tracking them" and working to address the problems.

"We’re still working in all the other boroughs to make sure we widen out those streets and we’re getting to our bus stops and sidewalks," Garcia said.

Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, resident Peter Quamina said Monday he spent hours over the weekend shoveling out the front of his driveway only for it to be blocked again by sanitation plows.

Lancelot Messiah, of Queens, said he spent the entire weekend at his sister's Brooklyn apartment because his car was buried in snow. He had dug his car out on Sunday but the plows buried him back in.

The director of a charter school in Brooklyn, Wanda Morales, says trains will be the preferred option for many of her teachers. Normally the street parking around the school is reserved for teachers, but that's suspended until Wednesday.

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