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New Rochelle Residents Say City Falls Short On Snow Removal

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New Rochelle is the seventh largest city in all of New York state, but some residents say the city is behind the times when it comes to snow removal.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, the city says it is challenged when it comes to handling snow.

After the massive snowstorm on Tuesday dumped more than 15 inches of snow in New Rochelle, pavement was still barely peeking out on Pilgrim Road on Wednesday.

Some residents said poor plowing has been an ongoing problem.

"All of this area was still white and covered with snow," said Maurizio Terezzi of New Rochelle.

"I love New Rochelle -- don't get me wrong," another resident said. "But the plowing situation isn't great."

On Tuesday afternoon, road conditions on many secondary streets in New Rochelle were barely passable. The New Rochelle fire chief said his fire trucks – equipped with snow chains on the tires – were delayed getting to a house fire on snow-covered Thornbury Road.

"It was probably the worst time -- 2,3, 4 in the afternoon -- when they had that fire, and that was right when we were the beginning of the storm when you have to focus on the main roads," said New Rochelle City Manager Chuck Strome.

Strome said his sanitation crews have an uphill battle during every snowstorm with just 20 snow plows operating on a full shift.

The city has to hire private contractors to help maintain 100 miles of roadway.

"So what we had was four or five inches of snow, then a couple inches of ice and rain that turned into ice. So when it got cold the snow was very heavy to plow," Strome said. "We had a lot of equipment breakdowns."

New Rochelle schools chose to cancel classes for a second day Wednesday because of icy road conditions. Some parents said the city needs to step up its snow removal efforts.

"They definitely couldn't get to school today, said Denise Fama of New Rochelle, "and the problem to is that when there is no busing we have to drive them and that's even worse, because that puts us at risk.

"We've had it before when the school bus has gotten stuck in our neighborhood, so I think it's better to cancel school to be on the safe side," another resident said.

Lots of New Rochelle residents were out breaking a sweat trying to break out their cars Wednesday.

"I'm sweating, as cold as it is that's because I've been trying to dig my car out from this snow drift, or snow plow residue as we like to call it," said resident Leon Dewar.

The plows pushed narrow paths past the parked cars, cementing many into spaces behind what are now walls of ice.

On the emergency routes, drivers were lucky if all they got was a ticket, CBS2's Lou Young reported. One motorist lost a bumper.

For legally parked cars getting out is weary work.

"It's very hard," resident Marie Lawrence said.

Some even got out the claw hammer to clear the way.

"About an hour and a half. It's chunks of ice. Forget about it!" said resident Lillian Samuela.

Strome said New Rochelle plans to add a handful of new plows to their fleet by next winter, but everyone here is hoping they won't need them before then.

"It's a lot easier to do when you have more equipment and more man power," Strome added. "We're a very lean organization here."

Strome also said New Rochelle would like to increase resources even more, but the state-imposed tax cap makes it difficult.

Schools were also closed Wednesday in 22 other jurisdictions in Westchester County the day after the storm.

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