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Around the Island, coping with the snow

Steve Kalogeras Jr., helps his father Steve Kalogeras,

Steve Kalogeras Jr., helps his father Steve Kalogeras, clear snow away from his vehicle in front of his North Patchogue home. (Feb. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

As Islanders tried to dig themselves out or get to far-flung destinations Friday, at least one person took time to appreciate what for her is a rare commodity.

"I love it," said Rene Herald, 52, who was dropping off library books in Kings Park. "We live in Southern California. We have to drive 2 1/2 hours to see snow."

Herald had driven cross-country to get to the Island, along with her sister, Claudia, to visit their parents in Kings Park.

But for Gary Westerfield and others, the snow put a crimp in plans to get far, far away.

Westerfield, 64, left his Smithtown home in a limousine at 2:15 a.m. and headed to LaGuardia Airport. He was supposed to catch a 5:45 a.m. flight to Houston and then Leon, Mexico, to judge an international racewalking competition. But the flight was delayed until the afternoon, and he had to brace for a long day of waiting around.

"There's no way to go home with all this snow," he said. "If I don't make it there tonight, I'm going to miss it."

Michael and Deborah McMillan, of Kinnelon, N.J., played cards in a food court at LaGuardia Friday morning after their flight to St. Martin was delayed indefinitely.

"There's nothing you can do about it," Michael said of waiting for their weeklong Caribbean vacation to start.

But others, like Jacki Tirelli, were eager to get to Long Island.

Tirelli, 22, was the lone passenger Friday morning on the eastbound platform of the Long Island Rail Road station in Forest Hills. She was determined to get to her parents' home in Patchogue.

"My feet are wet," she said, pointing to black rubber boots with pink polka dots. "I didn't expect this much snow."

Tirelli works as an accountant in Manhattan during the week and a hostess at a Bellport restaurant during the weekend. She didn't consider staying home in Forest Hills, despite the snow.

"I wish I left last night," she said.

As a loudspeaker announced 15-minute train delays, a few more eastbound passengers trudged up the snow-packed stairs to the platform. By 8:30 a.m., Tirelli's scheduled 8:15 train still hadn't arrived.

"I'll be lucky if I get there before 11," she said.

Rebecca Dew, 16, had nowhere to be Friday morning because of a snow day from Baldwin High School. But she spent the morning shoveling the sidewalk of her Freeport home.

"I've been out here for abut a half-hour," she said. "It's kind of tiring, but it's light snow." Shoveling, she said, was better than what she would normally be doing on a Friday morning: "I like that I'm out of school right now, so now I have a three-day weekend."

Junior Meggie, a senior at Uniondale High, also had the day off from school and spent Friday morning shoveling the walkway outside West Indian food store SM Grocery.

"This is my family's store," he said. "I've got to clear a path for customers."

His father, Winston Meggie, drove up to the store a few minutes later to open up. "I have no choice," Winston Meggie said. "I have to make money."

Charles Robbins, director of transportation for Roosevelt Police Activities League, also had work to do Friday. As he moved PAL buses to better position them for Monday when kids return, Robbins got stuck for a few minutes in the middle of icy Nassau Road.

"It's all ice," he said, after he managed to drive the vehicle into the driveway with help from two men.

Patchogue Village employee Scott Welsh was working with a crew to shovel the crosswalks, alleys and some of the sidewalks on Main Street, but said the storm was not that bad. "It was easily contained," he said.

Is he sick of the snow?

He shrugged. "I take it as it comes."

Meanwhile, others longed for more work.

K.J. Lee, who owns New Best dry cleaners in Port Jefferson, said business has been bad this year, but the stormy winter made it worse. "Not one customer today," he said. "February was so bad. . . . I can't pay salaries, and taxes went up."

Downtown Riverhead was quiet at midmorning, but property owners like Pat Waski were tending to sidewalks as the snow continued to fall. "It's a good thing we had a little rain" in advance of the snow, said Waski, a Riverhead town detective, from Jamesport. "It's heavy, but it helped" to prevent snow from piling up.

Across the East End, major roads were relatively clear, he and others said, though slick from melting snow and Thursday's rain. At the Suffolk County office building in Riverhead, four large plowing trucks were parked in a row, apparently waiting for larger accumulations.

County Road 51, a major north-south thoroughfare nearby, was cleared of snow and roads were lightly traveled.

Most people seemed to take the advice to stay home. Waski, who already had the day off, would soon be joining them.

"After this, I'll go home and enjoy the snow with my kids," he said.

Ed Powers, 59, a nurse, took advantage of a day off to go to Lake Ronkonkoma to look at the scenery and snap some pictures. "I'm just enjoying my cup of coffee and watching the snow," he said. "This is a nice, scenic spot. Look at the trees in the water."

But Kaitlyn Crosby, 19, of Miller Place, was tired of all the snow. She had to dig out so her mom could drive her back to Southampton College, where she's a sophomore and needed to work Friday night as a waitress there.

She also had to put the mailbox back together after something hit it.

"I am so fed up," she said. "If I never saw snow again, I'd be happy. . . . After college, I want to move south."

With Nomaan Merchant, Olivia Winslow, Stacey Altherr, Mitchell Freedman and Mark Harrington.


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