CLEVELAND — Following Cleveland's first major winter storm of the season earlier this week, Mayor Justin Bibb acknowledged that the city could have handled snow removal better, saying it was a problem compounded by short staffing and a "broken system" left by former mayor Frank Jackson.
As those who tried to navigate the city know, the roads were atrocious, and on Monday cars and trucks that weren't stuck had trouble getting around. Cleveland EMS and fire trucks were unable to make it down roads, and the Greater Cleveland RTA suspended service for much of the day.
Bibb initially responded to the situation on Monday night in an interview with News 5 by stating there's "always room for improvement" to how the city handles services for residents.
He said the city had "conflicting reports" of how much snow the city would get hit with. Bibb said the sheer amount of snow Cleveland received caught city officials by surprise. It wasn't just the city that was surprised. News 5 meteorologists and the National Weather Service predicted between five and eight inches of snow. In the Old Brooklyn neighborhood, 15 inches of snow fell. West Park got a foot.
The city had 123 drivers deployed to work in the storm, and 73 plows and road graders. Bibb also told News 5 the city has a labor shortage and could use more snow plow drivers and trucks.
On Thursday, Bibb released a video on Facebook in which he blamed the previous administration and said the system requires "significant overhaul and investment."
The mayor said the city is conducting a review of what happened and how to improve. He said he expects to have an update next week after talking with other city officials from the the Department of Public Works and Department of Public Safety.
In the video, Bibb reiterated that his number one priority is the safety of all Cleveland residents.
You read his full statement below:
"Monday's snowstorm hit our city hard. We used every truck, snowplow and driver available. But it wasn't good enough. I inherited a broken system that needs significant overhaul and investment.
I heard you, we need a new snow removal plan to ensure we are better prepared for the next storm. I'm working closely with the Department of Public Works, the Department of Public Safety and our new chief of operations to seriously review this week's response and develop actionable recommendations for an enhanced snow emergency response plan for the future.
Next week, my administration will provide an update to the public after we conduct a preliminary review and assess the system's needs. My number one priority is the safety of all Clevelanders.
I heard your comments, your concerns, and your frustrations. I'm frustrated, too. For too long, we've neglected to invest in delivering high-quality basic city services. That's why I ran for your mayor. And that's why I won't squander this opportunity to deliver on the services that you deserve.
I also want to give a special acknowledgment to all the crews on the front lines who've been working around the clock to clear our roads for our residents. Your hard work is valued and truly appreciated by everybody across the city. Take care stay safe, and God bless."
RELATED: Mayor Justin Bibb answers questions about Cleveland's messy snow clean-up Monday
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