CLEVELAND — Cleveland was hit hard by the winter storm that rolled in to Northeast Ohio Sunday night through Monday morning. But even when the snow stopped falling, the impact it had on residents continued across the city as uncleared streets wreaked havoc all day.
Throughout the morning and into the evening, cars were spotted stuck on residential and city streets as they attempted to embark on their commutes, EMS and fire trucks were unable to make it down roads, and the Greater Cleveland RTA suspended service for much of the day.
“Given that we were sending buses out only to have them get stopped, we had to make a decision for the safety of the drivers, potential customers and other motorists to suspend service because the streets just were not navigable,” said Floun’say Caver, the Chief Operating Officer for GCRTA.
With all of the struggles clearing the streets Monday, Cleveland's new Mayor Justin Bibb spoke with News 5 on Monday night to address concerns about the city's response.
“The reality was there was a lot of snow,” he said. “This is my third week in office. It's my first snowstorm. I believe there's always room for improvement to make sure we're delivering high quality basic city services for our residents.”
While News 5 and the National Weather Service predicted anywhere from 5-8 inches of snow, Bibb said city officials had conflicting reports of just how much snow would hit Cleveland.
“It caught many of us, in terms of the magnitude of the snow, by surprise, but we were ready,” said Bibb. “We had over 123 drivers deployed, both seasonal and full time, over 73 vehicles from the large snow plows to the small snow plows to the road graders, as well.”
Bibb said there are about 290 sub-sections of Cleveland to plow.
“When the snow started to subside at 10 a.m., we started hit the main streets, and then at noon we shifted to all of our side streets,” he said.
He said Cleveland is facing a labor shortage in truck and plow drivers.
“As mayor of a snow town like Cleveland, of course, I want more trucks. Of course I want more drivers and every street is important,” he said.
Bibb said that amid the struggles the City faced Monday, they wanted to be transparent and that’s why they sent out two robocalls and several statements throughout the day, but he acknowledged there’s work to be done, and he will learn from Monday’s snowfall.
“I'm looking forward to working with Council as we prepare for this year's budget to see, you know, down the line in the next three, five, 10 years, how do we make sure that we have a best in class fleet to support the whole spectrum of emergency management, operations and services?" he said.
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