A foot of snow to kick off the New Year
BY TARA SMITH & NICOLE ALLEGREZZA
Winter storm Grayson made a swift entrance in the area last Thursday, dumping over a foot of blowing snow and frigid temperatures in its path.
The National Weather Service predicted 6-10 inches of snow to fall across Long Island, but snow totals released after the blizzard showed much higher than anticipated levels. Locally, 16.3 inches were reported in Medford, 15.8 at Islip MacArthur Airport, 14.5 in Eastport, 14.0 in Shirley and 12.1 in Yaphank.
Bellport Village DPW superintendent Jason Crane estimated that about 14 inches fell in Bellport. “It’s hard to say total inches because of the drifting,” he said, adding that the high gusting winds of over 50 mph proved to be a challenge during the storm. “I have to say, the roads were very clear of traffic, which helped tremendously,” he noted.
Crane said that with a crew of 10, plowing was a challenge with wind blowing the snow back onto roadways. “Particularly from 8 a.m. Thursday until about 2 p.m. we had periods of whiteout conditions,” he said. “If we didn’t have the wind, it would not have been a difficult storm to manage.”
Crews worked from Thursday at 5 a.m. through 11:30 that night, and returned again Friday at 5:30 a.m., working until the late afternoon to get roads passable.
Crane did not report any outages or power lines downed, but said there were many medium-sized branches that came down due to wind.
In future storms, Crane offered this advice to village residents. “When clearing their driveways, if they stack the snow on the right side of their driveway while walking away from their house, it won’t get plowed back in,” he said.
Patchogue Village superintendent of highways Joe Dean said the storm required all hands on deck with about 35 guys enlisted, both staff and contracted.
Beginning at 4 a.m. the day of the storm, all village equipment was operating on the streets, plowing all the roadways, parking lots and village-owned sidewalks and alleyways. All roads were clear and passable throughout the storm and the next day.
“The amount of snow and as quickly as it came down in the severe temperatures and wind caused a number of equipment breakdowns,” he said. “But we are managing,” noting that though the storm was over, snow removal efforts continued earlier this week. All snow was removed and hauled to Sandspit Marina.
According to deputy mayor Jack Krieger, who was filling in for mayor Paul Pontieri while on vacation in Colorado, he was proud of the work done by the DPW and happy to see the condition of the roads.
Additionally, parking lots were accessible the very next day, Friday, Jan. 5, so that Main Street businesses were able to operate.
Town of Brookhaven
The Town of Brookhaven, according to highway superintendent Dan Losquadro, is more of a small city and is geographically larger than Nassau County, with over 3,500 miles of roadway to plow. To tackle the large job, he said he had about 750-plus men and women working around the clock.
“I am very happy with their performance … especially considering the wind, which was the biggest complicating factor,” he said. “Roads that were plowed were covered again only 30 minutes later.” Still, work began at about 4 a.m. and, after all streets were cleared, work continued, to widen and clean up already plowed roads.
Despite the hard work of the hundreds dispatched, unfortunately and commonly, several plow drivers were harassed, yelled at, cursed at and even had things thrown at them.
According to councilman Neil Foley, a plow driver in the Moriches area pulled over for a resident who flagged him down, thinking he needed help, and was assaulted. Countless shovels and snow were also thrown at plow drivers and the call center received a number of calls with screaming and poor language.
Despite the frustration and the snow that is thrown back into driveways while plowing, he said these drivers work hard to keep the streets safe and should be treated with respect.
“It’s disheartening,” he said, knowing that the drivers were out there for 24 hours straight. However, he said there are those who show gratitude, offering hot chocolate and thank-yous.
Also, the town as of the January acquisition plowed the Village of Mastic Beach. Generally, Losquadro said the feedback was positive and planning for plowing that section was made well in advance.
As for future storms, he suggests residents stay put and warm inside during storms so that plow drivers can do their job and when it comes time to shovel the driveway, while facing your house always remember to shovel to the left so that when the plow comes through, all your hard work isn’t undone.
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