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After snow, NYC tackles 'great wall of trash'

New York City is picking up garbage for the first time since the blizzard a week ago.
Image: Trash piled higher than cars in New York
For the first time since the Christmas weekend blizzard that dumped 20 inches of snow on New York City, sanitation workers pick up garbage in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn on Monday. Bebeto Matthews / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

New York City is picking up garbage for the first time since the blizzard a week ago.

Recycled trash won't be collected until further notice, but Christmas trees will be picked up, the Sanitation Department said. Trash collection was suspended while crews struggled to plow streets, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said.

But because the sanitation department still is hauling away snow, it will deploy only half the usual number of garbage collection trucks.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that the next step will be figuring out what went wrong with the storm cleanup.

Asked at a schools event whether budget cuts had an impact on snow removal, the mayor said the city used the same number of workers as in previous storms.

The Christmas weekend blizzard dumped 20 inches of snow on New York City.

The trash has been more than 6 feet deep in spots.

"It is absolutely ridiculous," griped Brooklyn resident Gilbert Lee, who said a week was too long for the garbage to sit. "It's over 6 feet tall. It's a great wall of trash sitting in front of my apartment, all up and down Flatbush Avenue. It's just absolutely unacceptable."

Bloomberg and other city officials endured days of withering criticism for the city's slow response to the storm. Bloomberg visited some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the snow and confessed the city's handling of it was "inadequate and unacceptable."

On one Manhattan block Sunday, sanitation trucks with front loaders were busy clearing snow, but garbage bins outside apartment buildings were filled to overflowing, and bags of recyclable beer bottles and milk cartons were stacked helter-skelter along with discarded Christmas trees and wreaths.

Neighborhood resident Daniella Lekach said she could smell the trash but it didn't bother her.

"It's OK in the winter," she said. "I figure it's cold enough that the rodents and insects aren't going to gather."

But Merilu Granato, who owns a midtown Manhattan pizzeria, called the piles of garbage "a very ugly scene."

"We pay so much in taxes," Granato said. "We didn't expect whoever's in charge to be so behind. ... I've been here 30 years and never seen anything like it."

Alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules, suspended since the Dec. 26 storm to facilitate snow removal, will be suspended again on Monday.