By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Southern Brooklyn did its best to get on with daily life during Winter Storm Hercules on Friday morning, but like their fellow citizens elsewhere in the borough, residents found that the snow, the heavy winds, and the sub-freezing temperatures disrupted their normal routines.
According to most media reports, Hercules dumped at least 7 inches of snow on New York City. But News 12 Brooklyn reported that that measuring the amount of snowfall in terms of how many inches were on the ground proved to be difficult because strong winds were blowing the snow around.
At 11:45 a.m., the temperature in Bensonhurst was 16 degrees, Weather.com reported, with a wind chill that felt like 1 degree.
During the early morning hours, major commercial streets like 86th Street, and Third, Fifth, and 18th Avenues had been plowed by the Department of Sanitation, according to the city’s snow plow tracker at nyc.gov.
Subways were running on local tracks and buses were operating at 85 percent capacity.
Local elected officials got in their cars to drive around their districts to inspect the impact of the first snowstorm of 2014, and then took to Facebook and Twitter to reach their constituents with vital information.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) announced on his Facebook page that local senior citizen centers were closed all day on Friday.
Meals on Wheels and other programs that deliver hot meals to seniors thought ahead of time to make sure the elderly would be taken care of during and after the storm, according to Golden. "Home delivered meals clients received double meals on Thursday, and have shelf-stable meals that will last through Monday," he wrote on Facebook.
.Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) wrote on his Facebook page on Friday morning that his Coney Island district office was open for business. “Please call my office number 718-373-9673 to report any storm related matters or concerns. My staff and I will be in constant contact with city administration officials throughout the day,” he wrote.
There was at least one some serious situation in the district, according to Treyger. “I have already received a report that O'Dwyer Houses in Coney Island are without heat and hot water due to a broken mobile boiler. The impact of Sandy continues as families are still relying on fragile back up boiler systems,” he wrote on Facebook.
Treyger said officials from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) “have informed me that they are working to fix the boiler.”
The housing project has 600 apartments. By mid-morning, arrangements were being made to transport O’Dwyer residents to a nearby “warming center” at Carey Gardens in Coney Island.
Treyger told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that he drove throughout the council district to see how residents were coping with Hercules. “Most of the streets have been plowed. I really want to give kudos to the Sanitation Department,” he said.
The councilman also urged residents in his district to be careful. “I am telling people not to turn on their ovens to heat their houses. It’s a fire hazard,” he said.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said the majority of streets in his district had been plowed. “There are some side streets in Bensonhurst that haven’t been plowed, but we’re working on that,” he told the Eagle. He was in touch with city officials to determine when the side streets would see plows, he said.
“As far as people calling our office, it has been pretty quiet,” Gentile said. “It looks like we dodged a bullet. It could have been a lot worse."
Throughout the morning, Gentile was busy organizing assistance for senior citizens and the disabled. “If you are interested in volunteering your time and services to help shovel snow for the elderly and disabled in our community, please email my staffer Justin Brannan at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are putting together a list for this storm and all future storms,” Gentile wrote on his Facebook page.
Gentle urged elderly or disabled residents to call his district office at 718-748-5200 to request assistance.
Borough President Eric Adams asked Brooklyn residents to look out for those in need. “Be a good Brooklynite and check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbors who might need assistance,” he wrote on Twitter.
For many business owners, life went on as usually, despite the snow drifts and strong winds. Arlene Rutuelo, owner of Nordic Delicacies, a grocery store on Third Avenue that stocks food items imported from Norway, announced on her Facebook page that she wasn’t going to let the snowstorm interfere with her service to her customers. “First snow storm of 2014! Nordic Deli is open and ready for business!” she wrote.
For residents who wanted to escape the cold and the snow, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) had good news on her Twitter page. “If anyone wants to take a last minute flight to Miami, JFK airport plans to reopen at 9:30am. Just saying,” she wrote early Friday morning.
***Updated with comment from state Sen. Marty Golden***