Even though the snow emergency is over, its effects linger with mounds of garbage citywide, an investigation into a possible blizzard sickout by sanitation workers and a life saved by piled-up trash.
As is typical during severe snowstorms, most sanitation workers were reassigned from trash removal to snow removal during the blizzard that struck the day after Christmas. New information, however, indicates that not nearly as many workers as usual were on the snow plow detail, and that that absenteeism may have been intentional.
"We knew that Tuesday and Wednesday, there were a lot of workers out. We had no idea how many were out," city councilmember Dan Halloran told PIX 11 News, describing his and other officials' initial reactions to sanitation roll call numbers during the blizzard. "The first pieces of information came in that there were 400 sick calls on Monday in addition to 100 emergency callouts. That was 10 percent of the work force," the College Point, Queens Republican said.
"Then, Tuesday the number jumping to 600," Halloran told PIX 11 News. "You're talking about 12 to 13 percent of the workforce calling out on a day they claimed there was no slowdown."
If true, that level of absenteeism is more than twice the usual number of sanitation workers who call out during a snow emergency.
Now, the city's Department of Investigation is probing the situation, and the potential sickout is likely to be part of city council hearings next Monday regarding the city's snow response.
And that response, which saw some streets not getting plowed or salted for five days after the snow started falling, forced trash pickup to be suspended until Monday. The result was mounds of trash piling up all over the five boroughs.
"You've got germs, You've got rats," Karen Valle told PIX 11 News on Friday. The woman who lives on the first floor of an apartment building in Concourse Village, The Bronx added, "My windows are on the front, so I'm geting that smell inside my house."
Even though she feels that way, one trash pile is credited with saving someone's life. 26 year-old Vangelis "Angelo" Kapatos is in critical condition after a trash pile cushioned his fall after he jumped from a window in his 9th floor apartment around noon Sunday.
Police and EMTs responded, and pulled Kapatos out of the mound of garbage on the sidewalk in front of his building, the Whitby at 325 West 45th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Police say it was a suicide attempt that was foiled by trash piled four bags high.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun