While Yale undergraduates enjoyed an afternoon without class on Wednesday, New Haven officials and emergency services were working to keep the Elm City operating.
In preparation for the second storm in five days, New Haven Emergency Operations took steps to mitigate the effects of the weather, including issuing parking bans on Wednesday, said Rick Fontana, the director of New Haven Emergency Operations. Throughout the week, the city will work to clear snow from sidewalks and streets and plan for the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for next Saturday and expected to garner a crowd of nearly 100,000.
“We will have 30 plus trucks handling the storm with options to increase as needed,” Fontana said in an email to the News on Wednesday. “We will use nine foot blowers if needed to remove snow into trailers to ensure the streets where the parade is are as safe as possible.”
Fontana said the city partially activated the Emergency Operations Center at 10 a.m., in preparation for the impending snow fall and high wind rates. Also on Wednesday morning, the city declared two parking bans for emergency purposes — one for the downtown area, which began at noon on Wednesday and will end the same time on Thursday, and another for residential areas that started midday Wednesday and concludes Thursday morning at 8 a.m., according to Fontana.
New Haven Public Schools also closed Wednesday, the district’s fourth day off due to weather this winter season, according to Chief Operating Officer of the New Haven Public Schools William Clark. Clark said the administration makes decisions on school closings after consulting with the superintendents of neighboring districts, the bus company employed by the city and the city’s Emergency Operations Center, Department of Public Works and Board of Education facilities department.
Clark said the district’s major concern is ensuring travel safety in the city. Once they have sufficient information about impending weather, district officials then consider closing, delaying or dismissing schools early.
“We’ll make the call when we feel there is definitive information,” Clark said. “We’re monitoring the impact of the weather and primarily the impact of travel for our buses and students and staff that are coming from across New Haven, within New Haven and outside New Haven.”
Clark said this winter has not been abnormal, as the district averages three to five snow days each winter.
Senior centers in the city were closed for the day, Fontana said, as well as Yale New Haven Hospital Ambulatory Practices. In addition, Tweed-New Haven Airport cancelled Wednesday’s commercial flights, according to Fontana.
Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison said the role of the alders is to update constituents on safety policies and city announcements during a storm. Morrison said the University has always been “neighborly” and has allowed Ward 22 residents to use University parking lots, such as the garage on Winchester Avenue, during such storms. In addition, she said, the New Haven Board of Education cleared out parking lots in schools for resident use.
Morrison said that, while she directs Ward 22 residents to contact city hall emergency services, she handles minor issues herself and informs the Public Works Department of any complications that may need to be addressed.
Yale announced on Wednesday afternoon that classes will resume on Thursday.
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