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NYC defends snow response; US West battles storms

 In this photo provided by the mayor's office, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, second from right, ho...
 An ATM machine is protected from the rain, as pedestrians face the rain in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. A new storm came just da...
 Visitors to Times Square navigate through piles of snow, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
 Felipe Springhoffs, right, helps Joel Schaffer move his car after it got stuck on an unplowed street in the Boro Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn Bo...
 People work to free a car stuck on the unplowed 56th street in the Boro Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn Borough of New York, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 20...

Winter Weather

In this photo provided by the mayor's office, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, second from right, ho...

California Storm

An ATM machine is protected from the rain, as pedestrians face the rain in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. A new storm came just da...

Winter Weather

Visitors to Times Square navigate through piles of snow, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Winter Weather

Felipe Springhoffs, right, helps Joel Schaffer move his car after it got stuck on an unplowed street in the Boro Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn Bo...

Winter Weather

People work to free a car stuck on the unplowed 56th street in the Boro Park neighborhood of the Brooklyn Borough of New York, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 20...

New York City officials fought back Wednesday against criticism that they did not respond quickly enough to dig the city out of a massive blizzard, while in the normally warm West, California and Arizona battled nasty winter storms.
New York's Sanitation Department is investigating some calls about streets that people say weren't covered after the post-Christmas blizzard that dropped 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow on the area, said spokesman Keith Mellis. In some cases, it could be that drivers who dug out their cars left behind mounds of snow and then "it looks like the street hasn't been plowed at all," he said.
Not all the streets are completely clear but they were passable, Mellis said, adding that sanitation crews would continue to plow throughout the day and put snow melters around the city to clear the towering piles of snow created by the plows.
On the opposite end of the country, Western states battled nasty winter weather that shut down major roads in Arizona and California, blasted Nevada with frigid winds and left an area of western Washington state in a whiteout.
New York's airports were operating normally by Wednesday after Sunday's blizzard stranded many holiday travelers. Officials cautioned it could take days to clear the backlog of passengers bumped from canceled flights.
The city's unplowed streets and abandoned cars during and after the storm hampered the city's emergency response system, which dealt with a staggering number of calls _ 49,478 to the emergency phone number 911 on Monday, the day after the storm. That total was the sixth highest in any day since the city began keeping statistics.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested Wednesday that New Yorkers themselves shared some of the blame.
"We asked the public to do two things," Bloomberg said. "Don't call 911 unless it was a serious emergency ... and don't drive.
"Unfortunately, too many people didn't listen."
Many of the calls were not for emergencies, and plows couldn't clear the way for ambulances because streets were clogged with abandoned vehicles.
On Wednesday, as stories began to surface about people who may have suffered serious medical problems while waiting for ambulances, the mayor was his most apologetic, without actually apologizing.
"We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do or as the city has a right to expect, and there's no question _ we are an administration that has been built on accountability," he said. "When it works, it works and we take credit, and when it doesn't work, we stand up there and say, `OK, we did it. We'll try to find out what went wrong.'"
In the country's West, storm systems dumped heavy snows in some mountainous regions and soaking rains in lower elevations, cutting power to thousands and causing numerous traffic tie-ups and accidents.
A blizzard warning was issued in parts of eastern and southeastern Arizona, and forecasters warned the system would likely move into neighboring New Mexico Thursday.
The latest round of rain to hit waterlogged California moved east, leaving powerful winds in its wake, with gusts of more than 50 mph (80 kph) hitting parts of northern Los Angeles County late Wednesday.
Snow and ice forced the closure of parts of the two major thoroughfares in northern Arizona, stranding motorists south of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Snow also forced California to close Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where winds were gusting to more than 40 mph (65 kph).
The California Highway Patrol reported downed trees and tumbleweeds on various Los Angeles-area freeways and streets, making it treacherous for motorists. One person was killed by a falling tree and a snowboarder was missing. The U.S. Coast Guard searched in strong winds and high seas for a boat reported to be in distress with four people aboard.
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Associated Press writers Colleen Long, David B. Caruso, Sara Kugler Frazier and Samantha Gross and Ula Ilnytzky in New York; Amanda Lee Myers in Phoenix; John Antczak in Los Angeles; Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada; and Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, Washington; contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-01 11:19 GMT+08:00