As New York City transforms from a winter wonderland to an icy, slushy mess, Manhattan College is no exception.
Back to back to back snowstorms from Feb. 13 through Feb. 15 dumped snow, ice and rain onto campus and the local area, creating treacherous conditions for traveling and even getting from building to building.
Classes were cancelled all day Feb. 13 and until 10 a.m. Feb. 14 because of the severe weather. Students were notified of the closure through Jasper 911 emails and texts sent out to the college community in the early morning hours.
Physical plant employees and public safety have been working in unison to salt and shovel as much of campus as possible during and after the two-part storm that began Feb. 13.
“This storm essentially went on for about 30 hours. So, it was extremely difficult,” Andrew Ryan, vice president of facilities, said of the planning of the snow cleanup on campus.
“They have a number of different approaches depending on what the forecast is for the storm,” he said. “Because what also plays into it is when the storm is hitting, whether classes will be impacted, is it happening over a weekend, is it happening at night for the most part, is it happening during the day. All of those factors play into how we have to attack the storm. Because it also impacts what we attack first.”
Steve Ortiz, a physical plant employee, said he came to work at 4 a.m. on Feb. 14 to start shoveling and salting campus. He said that each employee shoveled for one to two hours, and then took a break to dry his or her clothes in the Physical Plant office and to warm up with some coffee. Physical plant provided its employees with the dryers and a place to rest, according to Ortiz.
A regional salt shortage is making Ortiz’s the task of cleaning up campus more difficult.
According to NBC New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo told the media that the NYC metro area was suffering from a salt shortage. Authorities are trying to get salt to local communities that need it most, but this shortage is contributing to the icy conditions already in place because of the storm.
Students are seeing the effects of that shortage in the form of more slippery walks around campus.
“It’s not that nice out there. It’s kind of icy on campus,” senior Michelle Annabi said of campus conditions on Friday.
With the Leo path closure, students are now traveling off-campus more than ever to get to class and are using poorly shoveled and salted sidewalks that do not belong to MC.
“Walking from main campus to Leo, that sidewalk was terrible,” junior Alexis Sanchez said. “I slipped but I didn’t fall.”
“Sneakers are not the way to go. I should invest in boots,” sophomore Paul Senica said of his walk to Leo through areas of slush and ice.
The iciest patch of sidewalk on the corner of 240th St. and Broadway is property of an outside organization, and city code requires that owners of property in the city be responsible for removing snow and ice from the sidewalks that belong to their property.
“The bottom line is sidewalks must be thoroughly cleaned as soon as the weather permits,” John Doherty, commissioner of the city’s Department of Sanitation, wrote in a statement on the department’s website.
Officer Elliot of public safety said that in previous storms, the sidewalk that students use on Broadway had been much clearer.
“It [leo path closure] definitely makes things more complicated with severe weather conditions,” senior Dominique Girardi said. She also fell on an area of ice that had not been cleared up as she was walking on off-campus property from Overlook Manor to main campus.
But not all ice and snow related difficulties can be found on the ground. Snow and ice collecting on the rooftops of buildings and auxiliary structures have been another winter threat.
The gazebo behind Jasper Hall collapsed Friday under the load of multiple inches of snow and ice. The gazebo was unoccupied at the time of the collapse and no one was injured.
“I was told at the time that nobody was injured. That was the first question that everybody asked,” Andrew Ryan, vice president for facilities, said. “I believe that two students had just left the gazebo and it collapsed shortly thereafter. I know my staff did a little investigation just to make sure that there indeed was nobody trapped.”
Falling snow drifts and large icicles from the roof of Draddy Gymnasium have made entering and exiting the gym at its side entrances dangerous. Inside the gymnasium, signs have been posted warning students to only use the main entrance of the gym because it is not as susceptible to icicles.
In response, public safety has sent out numerous warnings of campus conditions via email communications to students and staff.
“Yesterday’s snow fall and continuing freezing temperatures have created new icing on campus steps, bridges and pathways,” a Feb. 16 email from public safety read. “Grounds crews are actively salting and cleaning the campus at this time. All residents and staff are advised to remain indoors until the campus is fully salted.”
The pathway between East Hill and Horan that lines the side of Draddy Gymnasium was also closed “due to falling ice and snow falling from Draddy. All areas around Draddy must be avoided, continue to use the residence hall main entrances,” another Feb. 16 email read.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the season with the highest snowfall totals in the last decade was in the year of 2010 to 2011, where Central Park saw 61.9 inches of snow in one season.
The worst snowstorm to hit NYC ever occurred on Feb. 11 and 12 in 2006, where accumulations in Central Park totaled 26.9 inches, according to the NYC Office for Emergency Management.