Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Press Conference to Update New Yorkers on Winter Weather Conditions

January 26, 2015

Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDkbxc1OepU

Mayor Bill de Blasio: We're going to give you an update on the approaching storm, and the preparations the city of New York is taking to prepare, to handle this. Again, this will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City. I'm asking everyone to understand that, and to prepare accordingly. This is not going to be like other snowstorms. It is going to be – by all indications – worse. And people have to be ready.

We are today issuing a weather – a winter weather state of emergency, and we will be taking additional actions this afternoon to secure our roads and our city, to make sure our people will be safe. The priority right now is anything related to the safety of our people, and I want to emphasize, throughout everything you're going to hear from us, that we want to put safety first in all we do. And that comes down to the decisions of everyday New Yorkers. People have to make smart decisions from this point on, careful decisions. Recognize this as an emergency. It is not business as usual. And if my fellow New Yorkers join me in doing the smart and safe thing, we are all going to get through this okay. 

We have great first responders, great agencies, ready to do what they do to keep us safe, but it's up to all of us to do the smart thing – get off the roads, get off the streets, as – get off the sidewalks – as this emergency deepens.

Since 7 pm on Friday, the sanitation department has been working on 12-hour shifts – around the clock coverage, 2,400 sanitation workers per shift. We have nearly 500 salt spreaders that were out before the snow hit, all equipped with plows. We have 255,000 tons of salt on hand, so we are ready to deal with this, and whatever comes after. As we accumulate two inches of snow on any given street, the snowplows swing into action. Over 1,800 snowplows have been deployed. That's up from the projection of 1,500 yesterday. We have, in grand total of all vehicles with plowing capacity, over 2,300. And we'll be bringing in, on top of that, 250 pieces of additional equipment from other city agencies.

Our colleagues at the Department of Transportation got ahead of this storm, and are continuing to do work literally as we speak, filling potholes in advance of the storm – over 1,000 filled already, plan to fill 800 more today to minimize the impact of the storm. In addition, in terms of protecting our citizens, we are adding 40 percent more ambulances this afternoon and evening, and FDNY will adding an additional 500 staff. 500 FDNY members will be on duty in addition to our normal complement. 

All the city agencies have been working very, very hard over these last days to prepare. I want to thank them all for their conscientious work. I remind you – particularly for sanitation which has the responsibility for clearing our roads, or Department of Transportation, which has the responsibility of coordinating everything about the upkeep of our roads – they have 6,000 miles of streets to cover, the equivalent of going from here to Los Angeles and back. And they're going to have to do that work constantly, under intense pressure, and that's again why – I say to all my fellow New Yorkers – we can help by getting out of the way of the sanitation vehicles, by getting out of the way of the emergency vehicles, so they can do their job.

The latest forecast we have from the National Weather Service still has us around two feet of snow, but again, we have learned in past storms, that can change at any time. Storms can speed up, slow down – they can get smaller, they can get bigger. We are preparing for at least what that forecast is suggesting, if not worse. We certainly know we're going to have very high winds. We know we're going to have low visibility. We know we're going to have lots of conditions that make travel unsafe. 

We will be giving you constant updates as we get information, but everything we know so far makes clear – you can't underestimate this storm. This is not a typical storm. It's going to pack a real punch. And we have to expect heavy accumulation in a very short period of time. This is another crucial point – some storms come in a measured manner. This is going to come in in a sudden spurt of activity. We saw some flurries this morning, and that has largely dissipated, but what you're going to see in a few hours is something that hits very hard and very fast, and people cannot be caught off guard. 

The best thing to do is stay indoors, stay off the roads, stay off the sidewalks. And this is something I want people to start acting on as quickly as possible. In the next hours, we want people who can get home to get home early, to get out of work as early as you can, get home. But as the evening progresses and the snow intensifies, it will not be an optional matter. As part of our emergency declaration, I'm ordering that at 11 o clock tonight, our streets will only be available to emergency vehicles. So, all non-emergency vehicles need to be off the streets of New York City by 11 pm tonight. And we will continue that emergency declaration until the situation is safe. 

So, from 11 pm on tonight, no non-emergency vehicles on the streets, and that is going to be the policy until we state otherwise. We need to let sanitation, police, fire, do their jobs, and this is the way we will guarantee that. 

On the way home this evening – again, the earlier you can leave, the better. If you can take mass transit, that is a priority to do so. If you are driving, expect tough conditions with each passing hour this evening. Go slow. Take a lot of precautions. Even walking – be careful this evening as this storm will intensify very quickly. 

If you have any evidence – if you happen to take, for example, for-hire vehicles – if you have any evidence of people taking advantage of this emergency to unfairly and illegally raise the prices of their rides, it is important to call 3-1-1 and report it. Price gauging in the context of an emergency is illegal. If you experience it, please call 3-1-1, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission will investigate right away. 

Amplifying what I said yesterday, I want all New Yorkers, at the end of this afternoon – at 6 pm – to stay out of our parks. We will close our parks at 6 pm. There will be the potential danger of falling tree branches – that could be very dangerous, especially if the snow accumulates so rapidly. So from 6 pm on, all parks will be closed.

As for our schools, we are officially announcing that school will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday. So please emphasize to your audiences, schools will be closed tomorrow. In addition, the Regents exams that were scheduled for tomorrow will be cancelled tomorrow and rescheduled to a time shortly in the future. All after-school programs this afternoon, school trips, evening adult education programs – all cancelled. 

When it comes to parking – alternate side parking cancelled today, cancelled tomorrow, Tuesday cancelled, Wednesday as well. Garbage and recycling pickups will be suspended throughout the snow clearing operations – so, today, tomorrow, very likely into Wednesday as well, if not beyond. 

Again, if New Yorkers need information – need to get more information about help available to them, 3-1-1 is the best bet, or go online at nyc.gov. But if there’s a real emergency, anything life-threatening, that’s when you call 9-1-1.

In terms of some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, Department of Homeless Services is out looking for those who are homeless who can be brought in to safety. If you see someone homeless who is in danger, call 9-1-1. If it’s an immediate urgent danger, again, if it’s life-threatening, call 9 – call 3-1-1 if it’s a typical situation; if it’s life-threatening, call 9-1-1. 

People who have any problems with heat and hot water, please report immediately to 3-1-1 so we can act on it now. Any heat and hot water disruptions, call 3-1-1 immediately.

As I say every time we face one of these situations, we as New Yorkers can help our fellow New Yorkers – our neighbors – by checking in on them, particularly if they happen to be senior citizens or disabled, or people who have any special need. It’s important to be there for your neighbors. Check on them today. Check on them tomorrow. Make sure they have what they need. 

The bottom line here is the thousands and thousands of people who work for this city are going to be out there doing a lot to keep us safe. But we have to keep each other safe. We have to look out for each other. We also have to do the right thing by this entire city, by getting off the streets and staying indoors so they can do their work. A few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, I want to call up our sanitation commissioner. She and her team have been doing an extraordinary job getting ahead of this situation, and she’ll give you some more updates.

Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Department of Sanitation: Actually, the mayor covered much of what I was going to talk about in terms of numbers, but our front line sanitation workers did a really amazing job overnight getting us prepared, getting us chained up, and getting all the plows on. We are now at a higher level than we have seen in recent history. And already, we have 14 plows pre-staged around the city, as well as 500 spreaders that are working through this portion of the event. The additional 250 pieces from other agencies will be joining us this evening on the 7 pm shift. We understand that there is going to be very significant whiteout conditions – very challenging for the sanitation workers – so I really want to reiterate being off the roads is critical to our ability to clear and efficiently get everyone back to normal. Thank you.

Mayor: Thank you very much, commissioner. Our schools chancellor has responsibility for well over 1.1 million children, and the Department of Education is taking all the appropriate precautions now. I want to have her give an update.

Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Department of Education: Most importantly, for parents of high school students, the regents that were scheduled for tomorrow have been rescheduled for Thursday. And they are Global History and Geography, Integrated Algebra, Comprehensive Testing in Writing and in Mathematics for special education students. The regents that were scheduled for today – we asked permission and received to start an hour earlier, so students could leave earlier from school. And we also cancelled professional development for teachers for Monday. So, we are very hopeful that everyone will get home safely. It is really important also that parents consider the safety of their children, and in the coming days – between today and tomorrow – that they keep the kids home, and reading a good book is not a bad way to spend a day off from school. But we also caution them that there will be dangerous situations out in the streets and that may not be the best place for them to be.

[Chancellor Fariña speaks in Spanish]

 

Mayor: Thank you very much. I want to extend my appreciation to the State Board of Regents for their cooperation in helping us reschedule those tests. Next, our transportation commissioner, again – a big job getting ready for this storm and making sure that the streets are as prepared as it can be – great coordination with sanitation, we want to thank her for that – Commissioner of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.

Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Department of Transportation: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. As you mentioned, we have had 10 of our pothole crews out the past couple days. We’re hoping to get up almost to about 2,000 potholes by the end of today, to help get a good road surface. And we will have, all together, 450 employees coming to help sanitation keep the roadways clear, keep our bridges clear, work on pedestrian overpasses. At the moment, ferry operations to Staten Island are still running normally, but obviously as conditions develop, stay tuned to social media, and we will apprise everyone of ferry operations as the storm picks up.

Mayor: Finally, I’d like to call up our commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, who is hosting us here today – again, who has the responsibility for getting all of our agencies to coordinate but also with our state and federal partners – Commissioner Joe Esposito.

Commissioner Joe Esposito, Office of Emergency Management: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. And again, as the mayor mentioned, that’s what we do – we coordinate here. In the last few days, that’s what we been doing. Over 50 of our partners – city, state, federal, private partners – we’ve been in this building or on conference calls, developing the plans, making sure that every aspect that needs to be dealt with has been dealt with. We’re open here. Our Emergency Operations Center is here. All of those agency partners will be present up here, right until this storm is over. So, I would imagine right through Wednesday and Thursday at least, we’ll be open up here addressing any emergency. And I think we’ll get through this pretty well.

Mayor: Thank you very much, commissioner. Okay, my friends in the media, we’ll be seeing a lot of you these next few days. This briefing, we’re going to stay to on-topic questions. There will be other opportunities coming up. Go ahead, Dave.

Question: Mayor, can I ask you, first of all, about what happens at 11 o clock – when was the last time that we saw that kind of a draconian measure, that all cars are banned –

 

Mayor: That’s an editorial comment. I don’t think it’s draconian. I think it’s necessary, given that we’re talking about one of the biggest snowstorms – potentially one of the really very biggest snowstorms in the history of the city – that we have to take every conceivable measure to protect people, and this is a common sense thing to do. In terms of the history, I don’t know if Joe or our First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris may have a sense of when that last was done. But we can get you that answer.

Question: What happens though, was the rest of my question? If someone is out at 11:30 or midnight or [inaudible] at one or two in the morning –

Mayor: So, again, an emergency situation – that will be respected. If it’s a non-emergency, there is the potential that someone would be, obviously, stopped at that point. So, that’s – we are going to make very clear to all New Yorkers that if it’s not an emergency, you cannot be on the roads after 11 pm. 

Yes.

Question: Mr. Mayor, are you expecting any flooding from this storm, and are there any resiliency measures in place to kind of prevent that? Will that affect the subways? And then, also, you mentioned homeless shelters – is there any estimate for how many New Yorkers might be out there right now, and how many people have been brought in?

Mayor: We can get you specific numbers on that. I don’t know – is Gilbert Taylor with us? You want to first handle that one? And then we’ll go to Joe on the flooding issue.

Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, Department of Homeless Services: So, as the mayor had mentioned, our outreach efforts are in full force. We’ve doubled the number of outreach teams that are currently working throughout the five boroughs to bring in anyone who is unsheltered into shelter. In terms of precise numbers, anyone that we see who may be in distress – we ask anyone who you may see that may be in distress, please call 3-1-1 and we can dispatch a team to bring them into shelter.

Question: How many outreach teams will be out there?

Commissioner Taylor: So we have, I believe, 15 outreach teams in all of the five boroughs.

Mayor: Okay, Joe on the flooding question, and what we foresee at this point.

Commissioner Esposito: We’ve talked to DEP about that. We’re not expecting any flooding immediately. The temperatures are going to be in the 20s. But we have a plan for immediately following the snow, when it stops. If the weather does go up and the temperatures go up, we’ll be out there cleaning those basins and getting ready for that. We have not pre-staged any equipment. We didn’t feel it was necessary at this time. But we’re ready to get that equipment out there as soon as possible, when the conditions warrant.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you told people to call 3-1-1 for a lot of different situations. Can you talk about what the staffing levels will be at 3-1-1, since people are being asked to [inaudible] –

Mayor: Yeah, we're definitely preparing – sorry –

Commissioner Esposito: Yeah, I mean, all the city agencies, especially the ones that are going to be dealing with the public, are – have increased staffing. We’re going to be holding 3-1-1 folks, that goes for 9-1-1 – all the call-takers citywide – we’ve added to their tours and we’re prepared to hold them afterwards, and even allow for them to sleep over if they have to. So, we’re expecting additional calls and we’re ready to take them.

Question: So the 11 pm travel ban does not apply to those folks?

Commissioner Esposito: No, emergency folks who’ve got to come in – they're – we’re going to get them in.

Mayor: Yeah, thank you for raising that. Look, emergency and essential personnel obviously are exempted from the travel ban. People who are helping to keep us safe, helping to clear our roads – that doesn’t count as part of the travel ban. The travel ban is for everyday residents going about their own business. But I want to emphasize – our city workers, in these situations, work extraordinarily hard. A lot of them go days and days without enough sleep, but they stay at their posts protecting people. And that example of – you know, as we need people to stay on, they know it’s part of their duty. And the folks who work at our agencies perform with real extraordinary distinction in these situations, and are ready to stay at their posts as long as it takes.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I have two questions. Number one, in terms of schools, I’m wondering why you waited until today to close schools? Was there a concern about lost state aid, that you need to get state approval to do it? And on the alternate side of the street parking, that means that people are going to park on the streets. Could that be a difficult situation for your plows that are trying to plow two to three feet of snow? And is there a danger that these cars could be plowed in and difficult to get out?

Mayor: Let me do the first one first. The school decision is never a light decision, because there are state standards, there are state laws that dictate how many days of school we have to have. Obviously, we don’t want to disrupt children’s education if we can avoid it. But we also wanted to make sure that we were clear about this weather pattern – there was no question that it was consistent with what we understood. That’s why, yesterday, we made clear to parents all over the city, the likelihood of school being off tomorrow so they could prepare. And so, parents clearly got the message – get ready for school to be off Tuesday. Now, we are formalizing and saying school will be closed tomorrow. And this is giving them enough lead time to make the kind of arrangements they need. On the parking question, I’ll let Kathryn come up. Look, I’m going to state the obvious – we have to make a choice in this situation. The worst choice is to have a lot of cars trying to move around, looking for parking. So, stability at least allows our sanitation teams to do their job.

Commissioner Garcia: So, for the department, it’s not an issue to have cars parked in their parking. It’s more of an issue if they try and dig themselves out and put the snow back into the street, blocking the street, which is one of the reasons we've extended until Wednesday. We know we can get up those blocks. We, normally, often plow on the overnight when there are cars on both parking lanes, so we don’t anticipate that being a problem. But we want to discourage people from driving. And we want to discourage people, as we come through this, from throwing a lot of snow back into the street that may just have been cleared. It will be very difficult to dig out your car. It is going to be very difficult for the department to dig out the city after this storm, if we get anywhere near the amount of snow that is projected.

Mayor: So, let me just quickly follow up with – yeah, but I just – let me clarify, and then we’ll take your next question. The – first of all, on the point – and I have spent many a day digging out my own car, when I had my own car – and the point is, I know it’s tempting to put snow into the street. This is a – it’s a huge mistake, given the amount of snow we’re going to have, to put the snow back in the streets. I’m going to ask all of my fellow New Yorkers, when the time comes to dig out your car, move it in between cars, move it in the sidewalk, but don’t put the snow back in the street. But I also want to emphasize – alternate side cancelled today, tomorrow, Wednesday – we may go farther than that as conditions merit. The thing that people have to get in their mind is, you have no reason to move your car any time soon, at the rate this is going. All non-emergency travel is banned after 11 pm tonight. So, the best thing for people to think about is, leave your car where it is. And this could go on, obviously, for a couple of days. Go ahead, Marcia.

Mayor: All of the above – literally, it’s going to be – it’s going to be in part depending on conditions, but I think what we found last year is it’s a combination – some work is done at City Hall, some here at OEM. Obviously, it’s important to get out and see what’s going on as well.

Question: As a follow, you referenced last year. Any sort of [inaudible] lessons learned from last year, things you want to change in your response this time around? And on a lighter note every storm last year we saw you shoveling out your home in Brooklyn, do you have any plans to do that at Gracie Mansion?

Mayor: I do not plan to do it at Gracie. And my back is very happy about that fact. And – but I do miss my home in Brooklyn, for sure. On what we’ve learned, I think we’ve learned with each storm ways to coordinate between our agencies better. I think that the agencies are doing a great job now of backing each other up – sharing equipment, finding ways to offer each other information that’s speeding up and improving the process. Kathryn might want to talk to you about some of the other innovations or improvements we’ve made since last year, in terms of how to pinpoint some of the locations we’re going to focus on.

Commissioner Garcia: So you know, one of the things coming in to a storm of this size is making sure we don’t get behind. I mean, that is the most critical piece for us, is to be ahead of the event. So, that is why people will see sanitation plows waiting – waiting in pre-staged. In addition, we did a lot of work with some of our routes to try to get in to the secondary streets more quickly. So, those are some of the innovations but we really took this very seriously going into the season, to make sure that we were very conservative in our approach to winter weather, and that we were chaining up and plowing up and salting very aggressively.

Mayor: So, just to summarize that, it is – we are, one, doing more prepositioning of assets, and two, we’ve updated the routes for each plow in a way we think will help them get into the secondary streets more quickly.

Question: Mr. Mayor, just wanted to seek, just, clarity on the 11 pm rule – that applies to any sort of taxi cab or car service, and there are a few folks on social media wondering about food delivery bicycles, whether they might be allowed out?

Mayor: The food delivery bicycle is not an emergency vehicle – so, no. If you are part of the city government, if you are a first responder, if you are an essential public servant – those are the kind of people who will be allowed on the streets. Nothing –

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Nothing – we’ll come to that in a moment. [Laughs] Nothing that has to do with leisure or convenience, or takeout food, or going to movies – we’re not doing that. As of 11 pm, get out of the way, so that we can make this city safe.

Question: What about the reporters?

 

Mayor: I’m sure we can make an exception so you can report to the people what’s going on.

Question: [inaudible] Uber and similar car services should append their surge pricing policy during this storm?

Mayor: There's a law that you cannot price gauge in the context of an emergency. So, I think it would be immoral to charge people extra because there's a national disaster going on.

Question: A lot of what citizens use is state-controlled, and you're speaking of coordination. Can you speak a little bit about how the coordination is with the state – 

Mayor: Yes, it's been constant.

Question: – especially considering that you and the governor are not appearing together. That might just be –

Mayor: You know, for one thing, there's a lot going on in Albany, and the governor's involved in Albany right now, but the point is, we constantly are coordinating and communicating. Our teams literally were on the phone minutes before we came in here, and there's a great deal of agreement on how to approach this. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, about this [inaudible] when do you expect to finish, and if it's not tomorrow or beyond, how do you expect [inaudible] city activities will go on, and do you have any numbers of the impact of this –

Mayor: Okay, we don't – let me be clear. This is a dynamic situation. I'm going to emphasize this in all the briefings. We don't get a memo telling us exactly what a snow storm is going to do, or any other storm. What we're trying to do is plan for the worst, not for the best scenario. Based on what we know now, and assuming even a little worse than what's been projected, we are declaring this emergency at 11 pm. We can't give you an endpoint, because we don't know how bad it will be. It's clearly going to take us into Tuesday, and then we'll keep updating people from there. So it doesn't make sense to project, or to offer any analysis until we get a better sense of what the storm's going to do.

Phil: Couple more, guys.

Mayor: Go ahead. Finish up.

Question: Have you anticipated any impact of the economy of the city, about –

Mayor: Again, when we're dealing with a natural disaster that we don't get to decide whether it's coming or not, we can safely say it will have an impact, but our job right now is to keep people safe. That's what we're focused on.

Question: I was wondering if the commissioner could talk a little bit about the pilot program on Staten Island, in terms of sector plowing versus street-by-street?

Commissioner Garcia: So, that was what I referring to – so on both Staten Island, and in Manhattan, and in several districts across the other boroughs, we completed something called sectoring, which eliminates the differentiation between secondary and tertiary. We think this will allow us to get into those areas more quickly, and make sure that we're providing service to them. So we will let you know. 

Mayor: Thank you.

Question: Mr. Mayor, could the fire commissioner address fire hydrants, and those kind of things the fire department needs during this time in an emergency?

Commissioner Nigro: Well, we certainly depend on the public to not shovel the snow over the fire hydrants, to clear the hydrants in front of their homes, in front of their businesses. And the fire department will be monitoring that all night and all day tomorrow. But we definitely depend on the public to help us with the many tens of thousands of fire hydrants that are in New York City. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, we understand you're recommending that people not be out in the storm, but I'm wondering if the health commissioner might tell us what the risks are of wandering around in these winds and temperatures?

Commissioner Bassett: [inaudible] the mayor can do it.

Mayor: No, I want – I think you're an authoritative voice.

Commissioner Bassett: So, the question was about what the risks are of being exposed to extreme cold, and to weather – so, the people who are the most vulnerable are the elderly and infants, and anybody with underlying diseases – so anybody with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes – should take care about being outside in the cold. You can either – if you're exposed to extreme cold – get frostbite, which is basically freezing of your tissues – your nose, your fingertips, your feet – and you can also get hypothermia, which means that your whole core body temperature goes down from being prolonged – prolonged exposure. The other thing, other than being outdoors, is to take care about how you address heating issues. It's really important that people not use their gas ovens or propane or paraffin or charcoal broilers to try and heat their homes if they have a heat problem. So, the best thing to do is stay inside, stay warm, look after your neighbors. 

Mayor: Amen. Let's do two other – just two other quick additions. For those, again, who are tempted to start shoveling out in these conditions, once this really hits, a lot of people who have heart conditions or other problems find that shoveling is a huge stress. This is going to be shoveling on a very grand scale, and I just want to urge people who have any challenges, it's not the time to start shoveling tomorrow in the middle of a blizzard. Take it slow. Again, this is going to go on for a few days, and people should really, you know, be measured, and pace themselves, and not overdo. Second, it's going to be very slippery out. So literally, someone may say, oh, I'll walk to the corner store – that's going to be dangerous in and of itself. So, right now is the time – if you need food, if you need anything from the store, go get it in these next few hours so you won't have to be moving around tomorrow where it's very difficult conditions.

Question: So, what has the city done for scaffoldings and cranes with the highways?

Mayor: That is a fine question. Joe – scaffolding and crane expert.

Commissioner Esposito: And we have put an advisory out. All the construction companies – they'll go out, and then we'll issue an order to secure everything, and stop construction, basically, also.

Question: Mayor, you said I think that it's [inaudible] travel ban could be stopped – can you just clarify, is that a fine, or an arrest, or what is that – and also in terms of clearing this snow – are you hiring people in addition to the plows to actually do shoveling, and be clearing the other areas for pedestrians?

Mayor: Okay, on the second point, we – in the past, and Kathryn can speak to this – we employed a lot of people to shovel out intersections, to shovel out the wheelchair accessible elements of the intersections, you know, to try and make this situation better on the ground. Do you want to speak to what you're going to do there?

Commissioner Garcia: So, we anticipate that we will be bringing on snow laborers probably not until Wednesday. We will also be deploying our skid steers to try and get to those crosswalks. I also want to remind people who might be shoveling their sidewalks – DOT has actually installed a large number of devices for the visually-impaired, and to not block those devices that are on lampposts. So we will be bringing in snow laborers, and many have either preregistered with my agency, or with DOT. 

Mayor: On your first question, I'd like Chief O'Neill to speak to that. 

Chief James O'Neill: Hi, good afternoon, everyone. So this is all about common sense. This is why we're doing this. After 11 o’clock, we only want emergency personnel, emergency vehicles on the road. And why is that? We want to be able to respond to people that need help, so if it's a fire apparatus, if it's an EMS ambulance, if it's an NYPD, RMP, we want the roads clear. We can't have people out there. If we find people are out there that don't belong, there is a number of steps we can take. It'll be up to the discretion of the police officers involved. It could be anywhere from a summons to, in the worst case scenario, an arrest – not what we want to do. We want to be helping people, but we need people to stay off the roads tonight.

Mayor: I think the point is, this is not a time for free agenting. We've made very clear what the standard here is – people have to respect. 

Question: Do you mean – forgive me if this sounds naive, but is this sidewalks – is this people on the actual part of the roads? Can you just specify specifically where you want and don't want people to be?

Mayor: We want people not to drive on the roads after 11 pm unless they are performing an essential service, an emergency service.

Question: Have you already put in an estimated price tag on this storm?

Mayor: No, we don't know enough yet to do that. We know it's going to substantial.

Phil: Two more, please. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, your predecessor had a problem in a snowstorm – what he had was ambulances not being able to respond, creating large backlogs. What has the department done to prevent that?

Mayor: I mean, I think we just said very clearly, we're adding tours and personnel, but Dan – oops, I'm sorry, you don't need this. Dan, you want to speak to it?

Commissioner Nigro: Yeah, that's true. In 2010, there were no chains on the ambulances, and now there are. That's one simple way we've done it. We also have some four-wheel drive ambulances we didn't have before, and we're prepositioning some National Guard vehicles at each of our stations. So, we anticipate that we will not have the problems we had in 2010.

Question: [inaudible] extra people, and can you tell us how much?

Commissioner Nigro: Oh, we'll have between 500 and 600 extra people starting at 6 pm tonight on our shift change, between fire and EMS.

Question: [inaudible]

Mayor: Okay, we've got to get to other people. In the back – Phil, bear with me. One, two, three, like this and then we'll be done. Go ahead in the back.

Question: Can you tell us when the travel ban will be lifted? Or do we have to just wait [inaudible]?

Mayor: I've said it several times, and I'm going to say it again. It's going to be when it is safe to lift the ban. We do not know yet how bad this storm will be. And even based on the most recent projections from the National Weather Service, if you do – as we've seen many times – if you assume a few more inches of snow on top of that, you've got one of the biggest storms in the history of this city. So, we're going to put this ban in place. We're going to be constantly updating you, and we'll be able to tell you when it is time to lift the ban.

Question: How do you expect to make the decision on schools as it pertains to Wednesday?

Mayor: That's going to be, obviously, as we see the storm develop, but we're going to follow the same model that we did yesterday. We're going to give people some prior sense of where we're going as soon as we have a sense of how bad this is. 

Question: Governor Cuomo has said that he's deploying 700 National Guard between New York City and Long Island. How do you expect to deploy the National Guard here?

Commissioner Esposito: Our big concern with the – one of the biggest trends we have is getting to people that need help. So we're going to deploy them with high-axle vehicles to augment the fire department's EMS people to try and get help to the people that are calling us for injuries, and things of that nature. 

Mayor: Okay, last call. Dave, did you have something?

Question: Can I just ask Commissioner Garcia one question? This time last year, you weren't the commissioner, and people may not be familiar with you. I just wanted to get your thoughts about this storm, and what you think – are you anxious, worried, confident –

Mayor: Does she look worried?

Question: – what are your thoughts right now?

Commissioner Garcia: No, last year at this time, I was at DEP, so I was worried about the water side of city government. I have to say, I was out in the field this morning with folks who are going to have to do the job, and there is a lot of confidence in those garages that they feel really ready to attack the work. And so, that gives me a lot of confidence in the plan we've put together, and the coordination we're having with other agencies, but I do want to stress, it's going to be a tough situation for us out there, particularly on the overnight. So, I'm very happy that we will have a minimal number of vehicles on the road with us.

Mayor: I hope you will all get to know Commissioner Garcia in the next few days, because part of why she has this job is what she did after Sandy, in terms of bringing back DEP facilities that were really devastated in coastal areas, and getting them back on time – getting back online, I should say, in record time. So, I have great confidence in the commissioner, and I agree with her – when I talk to the sanitation workers, they are energized. They believe this is their calling, to handle situations like this. And they're ready to do it. Thanks, everyone. 

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