With New Haven still recovering from the weekend blizzard’s wrath, classes have been canceled for a second day in a row.
As Elm City snow removal continues, city and University officials decided to keep Yale students and employees off the streets for another day to expedite the cleanup process and promote campus safety. Although the main and secondary roads in the city are now clear for vehicular traffic, some neighborhood roads — on which many Yale employees and professors live — remain impassable. City Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Emergency Management Robert Smuts ’01 said on Monday afternoon that he hoped about 95 percent of the streets would be passable sometime this morning, but he added that cleanup efforts will continue throughout the day.
Monday marked the first day the University has canceled classes due to snow since 1978. The blizzard, which dumped 34 inches on New Haven, is the worst since 1897, Smuts said.
“We ended up with something that we haven’t faced in over 100 years,” Smuts said. “We don’t have the type of equipment or practice that a city like Syracuse, N.Y., has.”
In the wake of the storm, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for Connecticut, providing federal aid for snowstorm cleanup. According to Smuts, New Haven was hit with heavier snowfall than nearly any other city in the state.
University President Richard Levin and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. met Monday morning and decided that conditions in New Haven were not suitable for classes on Tuesday. An email sent to the Yale community by University Vice President Linda Lorimer Monday afternoon said that classes were canceled at the request of the mayor.
Levin said that the decision to cancel classes came down to worries about safety for Yale employees commuting to work and pedestrians on campus.
“[DeStefano] felt it would just be better,” Levin said. “We have 12,000 employees, a large fraction of whom drive in the center of town. He felt if we could keep that minimized, that would be safer and give the cleanup crews more time to get the job done.”
In addition, City Hall, Gateway Community College, New Haven Public Schools, city senior centers and the New Haven Free Public Library will be closed today.
While Yale did not suffer widespread power outages or sustain any heavy damage from the storm, there were several incidents in which students were nearly struck by vehicles, said Martha Highsmith, the University associate vice president. Highsmith added that it was responsible to shut down most University services to avoid bringing thousands of employees to downtown New Haven.
“The academic enterprise is first and foremost on a regular day, but in extreme circumstances, we have to worry for the safety of the community,” said Highsmith.
In addition, some city sidewalks have not yet been cleared, which Yale Director of Emergency Management Maria Bouffard said forces students to walk in the streets. Bouffard added that increased pedestrian and automobile traffic could make commuting less safe. In addition, though many streets are classified as “passable,” the definition of “passable” is that one lane is cleared, making it possible for emergency vehicles to use the road, Smuts said. City crews are still working to clear entire streets and get traffic back to normal.
University officials have not yet determined whether classes will be held Wednesday but hope that conditions in New Haven will soon be close to normal again, Highsmith said. Smuts said he is hopeful that the city will be able to clean up significantly today, but he added that recovery time is uncertain in natural disasters such as this weekend’s blizzard.
Metro-North trains resumed service between Stamford and New Haven Monday morning.