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The East Coast is digging out from yet another major snowstorm. The last time New York City got this much snow, basic services were crippled for days. Well, this time, New York officials say they've learned their lesson, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE: When the snow ended this morning, it left 19 inches in Central Park - a total very similar to the storm that walloped New York City just after Christmas. That was lost on no one at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's morning press conference, including the mayor himself.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: We had, if you remember, 600 buses stuck. We had 200 ambulances stuck the last time. We had thousands and thousands of cars and trucks stuck. And so, plowing was almost impossible.
ROSE: Bloomberg was eager to contrast the December disaster with this latest storm. The mayor was all over local radio and TV this morning praising the city's response.
BLOOMBERG: This time people were already home by the time the snow really got bad, so there were very stuck cars, buses, trucks, whatever. Or we made decisions that prevented them from getting stuck.
ROSE: Like pulling all city buses off the streets just after midnight last night and bringing in private contractors to augment the city's plowing capabilities. In a city of eight million people, there are at least that many opinions about Bloomberg and the city's emergency response.
Pete Remandi(ph) shovels the sidewalk in front of his restaurant on 20th Street in Manhattan.
PETE REMANDI: I'm not so sure the snowstorm is as bad as the one right after Christmas 'cause - either that or the city has really come alive and doing a lot better job, one or the other.
ROSE: Juan Angulo(ph) of Queens thinks the city's reaction was better this time.
JUAN ANGULO: The streets were plowed when I left this morning, the house, trains were running no problem, my train anyway. Crowded, but, you know, it's New York. You got to do what you got to do, get to where you got to get to. A little snow ain't going to stop nobody.
ROSE: But not everyone is so impressed. While the streets of Midtown Manhattan might be passable, Presley Moses(ph) says it's a different story up in Harlem.
PRESLEY MOSES: I live uptown and it's, like, crazy up there. The sidewalk is full of snow.
ROSE: So were many streets, even in midtown.
(SOUNDBITE OF STREETS)
ROSE: Rob French(ph) was one of several strangers who picked up a shovel to help dislodge a Yellow Cab that was stuck in the middle of 22nd Street.
ROB FRENCH: Because I live in New York and if I was the cabby, I would love it if somebody helped me as well. I work at a business here, I need trucks to go through also to deliver my stuff, so it matters to get cars out of here.
ROSE: Mayor Bloomberg caught some heat for canceling school on a day when thousands of students were scheduled to take state achievement tests. That left lots of parents scrambling to find something to do with their kids. But Zack Caplan(ph) of Brooklyn didn't mind. His kid spent the snow day in Prospect Park.
ZACK CAPLAN: They're out with about 10 friends sleigh riding, running around in the snow. And hopefully I'll get out of here and go see them.
ROSE: Caplan gave the workers at his construction company the day off. But they were the lucky ones. For a lot of New Yorkers, today it was just another work day.
Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.
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