Grayson keeps many home, but not these unsung heroes


Before her recent promotion, Raolat Ajani would've found herself trudging through the nearly half-foot of snow Thursday delivering important letters and parcels house to house, where many people decided to stay as wind and snow pummeled the community in what has become known as winter storm Grayson. 

Instead, the newly minted United States Postal Service supervisor was inside — the post office. First at the Woodlawn station on Katonah Avenue before relocating later in the day to the post office on Riverdale Avenue.

"It is very slow," Ajani said. "Some carriers went out and came back in and said they couldn't take it anymore because of the weather, and it was too cold, and the wind was too strong for them to deliver the mail."

Ajani wasn't alone. While schools and many businesses closed their doors for the so-called "bomb cyclone" hitting the Bronx and the entire tri-state area, that doesn't mean everyone can have the luxury of staying home. Just ask Sophia Williams.

Dressed in tights under her uniform with sweatpants and sweatshirt on top, along with a vest, hat, scarf, coat and gloves, the certified nursing assistant knew she was needed at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. 

"Nursing is 24 hours," Williams said. "If I said, 'Hey, I am not going in the snow,' (then) who is going to be there for our residents?"

Workers from all walks of life were forced to brave Grayson on Saturday, from the city sanitation department clearing streets with plows, to the shovelers, to first responders, and anyone who simply can never take a day off. Even, yes, pizza makers.

"Snow storms are some of the busiest days around," said Laurence Addeo, owner of Addeo's Riverdale Pizza on Riverdale Avenue. "Kids are home. People are home. It's good for business."

What keeps business booming during weather events like a bomb cyclone are deliveries. People cooped up inside their homes with blankets and Netflix are not inclined to go get the pizza themselves, so Addeo and his team bring that savory disc of cheesy goodness to them. He'll even make deliveries himself to keep things running smoothly.

Grayson is expected to dump as much as 10 inches of snow onto Riverdale and Kingsbridge through Thursday evening, according to the National Weather Service. Wind gusts could reach as high as 55 mph, and its blowing so much snow that visibility can sometimes drop to barely seeing a hand held in front of you.

While the temperature itself is a little warmer than what it has been, the wind chill is quite cold, enough to bring the temperature to between 10 and 20 degrees below zero. That means anyone venturing out in the storm should definitely worry about frostbite or hypothermia. 

What might be worse is that all the work not done today will be saved for tomorrow, when weather conditions are expected to improve dramatically. 

"It's really affecting us because mail isn't moving," said Ajani, who was doing her best to wait on a handful of customers at the Riverdale post office. "Tomorrow's going to be a long day because it'll be mail from today and tomorrow."

That means anyone going to the post office, and probably many other places on Friday, should expect longer lines. Ajani will be working, except she'll be at the Fordham station. But she doesn't want to think about that right now.

"I just want to go home and relax," she said, "and get ready for work tomorrow."

— Zak Kostro, Lisa Herndon, Julius Constantine Motal