BY NICK ABADJIAN, UZO AKUJUO, RICHARD SCHACK AND NICK BUGLIONE
It was the storm that never arrived and despite the forecasts of doom Queens emerged relatively unscathed from last week’s fizzled blizzard.
Con Edison officials reported some power outages in pockets of Maspeth and Woodside because of downed line power lines early Tuesday morning when the weight of ice and snow took its toll on power lines on 49th St. and Grand Ave., inconveniencing 59 resident homes and businesses.
The ice also shorted out a transformer on 58th St. and 48th Ave. near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in Woodside cutting off power to 359 businesses and homes.
A spokesman for Con Ed told the Tribune all repairs were completed within a few hours.
The Deptarment of Sanitation had 353 salt speading trucks citywide that were ready to take on the impending storm.
Over 2,000 Sanitation workers were working on two 12-hour shifts in salt-spreaders and snow plowers.
“This is great,” said Todd Wanderman of the Hollywood Video Store on 63rd Drive in Rego Park.
Wanderman wasn’t referring to the fact the storm didn’t hit yet, but rather the threat of one. “Whenever there’s even a threat of a storm people will rent anything and our business doubles,” said Wanderman gleefully. “After the supermarket, we’re people’s second stop.”
Local supermarkets didn’t do too bad, either. Most stored reported strong sales the weekend leading up to March 5.
“People are stocking up on stuff, especially bread and milk,” said the manager of the Met Supermarket on the corner of 63rd Drive and Saunders St. in Rego Park. “I just hope when the store really hits we don’t lose business.”
Sanitiaion policy dictates that snow plowing trucks to be sent out when there is an accumulation of three inches of snow.
Port Authority (PA) crews worked througout the night to sand and salt the taxi runways of both JFK and LaGuardia airports.
Over 850 flights were cancelled at La Guardia Aiport. At JFK airport, more than70 flights were canceled.
Threatening Storm Forces Schools To Close
Forest Hills High School students David Morfi and Mike Mascia looked out the window for countless hours Monday, waiting to witness the effects of the devastating storm they and heard so much about all weekend. Together, they sat in collective disbelief as they “got to stay home for nothing.”
“Thanks a lot, Board of Ed.,” said 16-year-old junior Morfi sarcastically. Discussing his day off, Morfi talked of sleeping until almost 1 o’clock in the afternoon, “Almost six hours after I would normally get up. I enjoyed my day off – instead of having to go to school I did almost nothing. I got to sit around, watch T.V., and jam with my friend.”
John Ciafone is the vice-president of Northwestern Queens’ Community School Board 30, and said he got numerous calls from angry parents. Ciafone himself wasn’t too happy about Levy’s decision, either.
“The policy is to wait until the morning before school and announce at six in the morning which schools are closed. It’s easy to say after the fact,” said Ciafone, “but the chancellor should not have deviated from this policy.”
According to Board of Ed. statistics, only 52.3 percent of Queens elementary and middle school students attended school the on March 6th.
This week marked the first time public schools have been closed since the blizzard of January 1996.
Shoveling In Big Bucks In Whitestone
To everyone else it’s a nuisance, but to the Morelli brothers and their two friends it’s white gold.
Though accumulations from this week’s storm fell far short of expectations, that didn’t stop these four young Whitestone entrepreneurs from raking in the bucks with their snow removal service.
“It’s been good, business has picked up,” said Marcello Morelli, 16, who heads up the business along with his brother Alex and pals Danny Spring and James Breck.
If skies were clear the teens would have be in school—Martin Luther High for the Morellis, St. Francis Prep for Spring and Breck—but mother nature’s flurries afforded the crew a golden opportunity to make some money clearing neighbors’ paths of the bothersome snow.
“Every time we go to a house, they tell us to go do their neighbors,” said Morelli. “We just finished clearing out a parking lot.”
They might sound like your run-of-the-mill snow shovelers looking to make a quick buck on the inclement weather, but they’re actually more like freelance contractors—incorporating technology and advertising into their racket.
“We’ve been doing this for about three years, but this is the first year that we started sending out fliers,” Morelli said.
Gone are the days when kids simply grabbed their shovels and solicited their services door to door. These four have proven that it’s a whole new game.
With weekend weather forecasts touting the coming storm to be the worst in decades, the quartet printed up and distributed over 400 fliers urging area residents and businesses to “call early to make an appointment for removal.”
They even have a secretary of sorts. While the crew was out clearing sidewalks, the Morellis’ mom was home, forwarding all late callers to their boys’ cellular phone.
According to Morelli, adding organization to the snow removal business has paid great dividends.
While previously mild winters kept profits to a minimum, the increase in precipitation this season has allowed the group to pull in about $1000 an outing, Morelli said.
LIE Construction: Mapping Out The Traffic Zone
BY NICK ABADJIAN
Unlike this week’s snowstorm — a potential and temporary problem that never showed up — the major overhaul of what drivers often refer to as “the world’s biggest parking lot,” is one headache Queens may be dealing with for the next four years.
Two massive construction projects are reaching parts of the Long Island Expressway (LIE) that haven’t been touched since their groundbreaking in the 1950’s.
“The construction may be an inconvenience, but is important for the improvement of the LIE, Borough President Claire Shulman told the Tribune.
According to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYDOT), the construction points are located where the LIE intersects the Cross Island Parkway and where the expressway meets the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
Both projects are set to finish by 2004.
“We asked them ahead of time to put up the proper signage,” said Shulman.
According to DOT officials, roads will be getting new pavement, new draining and new lighting. Among the repairs and upgrades being made include:
• Roads to receive safety features such as closed circuit TV, variable message boards, and new pavement markers. Some road profiles will be reconfigured to increase sight distance for drivers.
• Six bridges are being reconstructed on the LIE between the Cross Island Parkway and the Nassau border. One of the bridges include the one that goes over the Cross Island.
• A pedestrian bridge is being added at Cloverdale Blvd, DOT officials said.
• The main road of the LIE is also scheduled to be repaved between the LIRR bridge and the Grand Central Parkway.
• Three LIE bridges are being replaced at the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway interchange. The Junction Blvd., Queens Blvd., and Woodhaven Blvd. bridges are being rebuilt.
• The lighting along routes is either being replaced or upgraded.