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CNN Today

NYC's Deputy Chief of Sanitation: City Is Ready for Snow

Aired December 29, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: And now to the nor'easter that is threatening to make this holiday weekend one to remember.

The nor'easter storm watch is in effect for Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and New York -- and of course, that's where we find CNN's Gary Tuchman, who's on the weather watch in New York city.

You've got your post, I see, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I've got my post, Andria.

And we come to you from a mountain in Manhattan -- a mountain of salt, that is. There are 32 such mountains in the city of New York, with over four million pounds of salt.

Now, this storage facility was completely full up until yesterday, but much of it has been taken out for the storm that's coming tomorrow -- 7.5 million people live in New York city -- the largest city in America -- but many of them have forgotten what a big snowstorm is all about.

The last time New Yorkers received more than 10 inches of snow was five years ago, January 7th, 1996 -- almost five years to the day. So people here aren't used to seeing it a lot of snow, but they're going to get it: Up to 16 inches of snow is predicted for tomorrow.

And in charge of the effort to clean the streets, keep the city safe, is the Department of Sanitation: John Francis is the deputy chief.

John, you guys have this down to a science, but you're out of practice, aren't you?

JOHN FRANCIS, DEPUTY CHIEF, NYC DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION: It's been a few years since we've had anything, any call for something that sounds like it's going to be fairly large for us, but we're prepared. We have approximately 350 salt spreaders that will be fully loaded with salt and calcium chloride: We have over 220,000 tons of salt citywide, at approximately 32 locations; in addition to that, 1272 or so additional vehicles that we're capable of putting plows on.

TUCHMAN: What kind of vehicle is this behind us right here?

FRANCIS: This is what we refer to as a normal salt spreader, 16 cubic yard capacity.

TUCHMAN: A tough question for you -- if you don't know the answer, you can tell me so: How much salt fits in one of these trucks?

FRANCIS: As I said, 16 cubic yards...

TUCHMAN: Oh, 16, OK.

FRANCIS: ... which equates, somewhat, to, like, 16 tons of salt, more or less.

TUCHMAN: Sixteen tons of salt in one load?

FRANCIS: Yes, in one load, that's correct.

TUCHMAN: That's an amazing amount of salt.

FRANCIS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

TUCHMAN: How much -- how many streets could get this much salt here?

FRANCIS: Well, you know, that depends on -- based on the size of the storm you're expecting, we set our spreaders to a certain time, based on the amount of inches we're expecting, and also, we open the gate a certain amount and release the salt at a certain application rate, based on how much we're expecting.

TUCHMAN: You worried?

FRANCIS: If the snow is -- no, not at all, you know, we've done this before. Again, in 1996, the last big storm, as you mentioned earlier, we had up to 30 inches in some of our boroughs, and we've actually got a little bit more equipment, more spreaders, and additional flowing dumps. So we have more equipment, we're experienced -- we are a little bit out of touch, but I feel quite confident we'll be ready, all our equipment will be plowing. We'll have 1,600 vehicles out there with plows on them, and between supervisors and sanitation workers, over 5,000 people in any 24-hour period fighting the storm.

TUCHMAN: John, thank you very much, we wish you a lot of luck.

So up to 16 inches predicted tomorrow. Last year during the winter season, New York city also got 16 inches of snow -- for the entire season: so you see what's going on here.

Andria, back to you.

HALL: Thank you, Gary -- I was there, in New York city, during the Blizzard of '96: It was not a picnic -- it was pretty, but not a picnic.

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