Snowplows, sanders out in force across Long Island

A snow removal truck moves along the eastbound

A snow removal truck moves along the eastbound LIE service road near Wicks Road in Brentwood. (Jan. 3, 2014) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Pedestrians were few and far between Friday morning as snowplows and sanders from municipalities across Long Island continued to battle swirling snow.

Officials in the Town of Brookhaven said Friday morning that major roads had been cleared, but they asked residents to stay off streets and keep their vehicles in driveways and garages. A town state of emergency remained in effect indefinitely.

All town roads had been plowed at least once, but high winds pushed snow back onto freshly cleared streets, said town Highway Department spokesman Frank Petrignani.

"We have effectively gone through . . . all the main roads in the town," Petrignani said in a phone interview. "We're at the point where we're going through a second or third time."

About 200 town highway employees and "hundreds of contractors" had worked through the night, he said.

Several Long Island municipalities, including the towns of Huntington, Hempstead, Southampton and Babylon, and the City of Long Beach, East Hampton Village and Huntington Bay Village, declared some form of snow emergency, meaning that officials had more flexibility in ordering changes in residential parking for street plowing, deploying personnel and closing facilities.

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Officials in North Hempstead said officials said the blizzard largely spared the town, leaving no damage to town properties.

Warming centers saw no activity at three locations opened up for residents, said town spokesman Ryan Mulholland. Those locations are: Michael J. Tully Park, at the Michael J. Tully Park Aquatic Activity Center in New Hyde Park; the "Yes We Can" Community Center in New Cassel, and the Port Washington Senior Center.

"Most people are staying at home," Mulholland said Friday morning.

Town roads have been cleared twice since 8 a.m. Friday, and a third round of clearings is underway, Mulholland said. Then, the roads will be re-sanded and re-salted, he said.

The town's 311 call center saw about 150 more calls than usual Thursday, "not a huge spike," Mulholland said. By 10 a.m. Friday, the center had received about 226 phone calls, which he said was "kind of low for a snowstorm."

Mulholland said the town experienced no flooding in the coastal areas. "The tides never came up to cause any degree of damage," he said.

Town workers are expected to clean up the various town catch basins Saturday, to avoid flooding since there is a chance of rain Sunday, Mulholland said.

The warming centers are expected to close by 5 p.m. Friday, but Mulholland said "we'll see if people start losing power, we'll keep them open later."

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Smithtown officials said the lightness of the snow was more of a problem than its quantity.

Because it so so powdery, Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen said, high winds covered newly plowed streets with snow even when it wasn't coming down from the sky.

But other than that, Jorgensen said town crews had no problems overnight and Friday morning. Every town street had been cleared at least once by mid morning, and some had been plowed several times.

"We're catching up now," he said. "We're doing well. We're pushing it back, curb to curb."

He added, with a laugh, "I'm glad to see the sun."

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In the Town of Islip, dozens of cleanup crews made two passes on all streets with snowplows -- only to have strong winds to blow snow right back onto the roadways, according to Town Councilman Anthony Senft.

"We're now on our third time through all the streets," Senft said about 9:20 a.m. Friday. "One of the difficulties we're encountering is the high winds -- they put the snow right back in the street and make it look like we haven't even been there."

As of 6 a.m., Bay Shore, a hamlet on the South Shore of the town, had seen 11.5 inches of snow -- one of the highest totals in the New York area.

There have been no reports of flooding, although the town is still awaiting the report back from Fire Island, which is expected to come in sometime Friday morning, Senft said.

"We'll continue to monitor the tidal changes," Senft said.

Strong winds up to 25 mph and dropping temperatures combined with the wind chill made it feel like minus 12 degrees Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Islip still plans to open their warming center at noon at the Caesar Trunzo Senior Center at 16 Second Ave. in Brentwood.

A town-issued blizzard warning for Islip will be in effect until 1 p.m. Friday, according to Inez Birbiglia, spokeswoman for Town Supervisor Tom Croci.

"We'll be going as late as it takes to clear the streets," Senft said about the plow efforts. "Fortunately, the snow is light but the unfortunate thing is the temps are low and it's creating icing, which is a challenge for our equipment because it causes breakdowns."

The Town of Oyster Bay said it had about 275 plows and 80 sanders working overnight and no roads were closed.

The City of Glen Cove said 22 pieces of equipment and 38 workers on the job overnight had made three passes and spread about 450 tons of sand and sand-salt mix. All roads were passable, officials said.

Thursday night there were no visitors to the warming center, Mayor Reginald A. Spinello said, but it will be open again Friday morning and will stay open as needed.

The small residential villages of East Williston and Roslyn Harbor in Nassau County reported a smooth recovery process from the storm.

David Mandell, Mayor of Roslyn Harbor, said nearby Hempstead Harbor did not experience coastal flooding. All the roads have been cleared, he said, in the residential community of 1,000.

In East Williston, a community of 2,500, Mayor David Tanner said the roads have been largely cleared after four go-rounds from the village plows. The village had taken extra precautions, having opened a makeshift emergency center Thursday night at the fire department.

Both mayors said they were unaware of any instances of damage. "So far it's been favorable," East Williston's Tanner said. "Just keeping ahead of the storm."

In Long Beach, where few people were on the streets at 8:30 a.m., City manager Jack Schnirman urged residents to remain indoors, if possible. He said strong winds were blowing snow around making roadways and sidewalks slick and dangerous.

He said the city's fleet of 40-plus snow removal trucks, plows and tractors was focused on clearing main streets such as Park Avenue and West Beech Street.

"Our focus right now is on the main streets, commuters and parking lots near the train station . . . City buses are running," he said.

Schnirman said the snow emergency declared at 5 p.m. Thursday remains in effect. Garbage crews will make their normal rounds on Friday, he added.

Mary and Ross Jones were using a snowblower and hand brush to dig out their Toyota Camry from a parking island on Broadway near Laurelton Boulevard at 8:15 a.m. "I figured I better get started because we'll need to use the car tomorrow," said Ross, 37, an accountant in Rockville Centre.

The couple didn't plan to drive on Friday. Ross said he would work from his Long Beach home. However, he expected to return to his car as plows dumped more snow near its back end.

"I'll be out here a number of times today," he said.

With Sarah Armaghan, Carl MacGowan, Ted Phillips, Scott Eidler, Andrew Smith and James T. Madore

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