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Long IslandTowns

Post-blizzard updates from around LI

A Suffolk Transit bus was left abandoned outside

A Suffolk Transit bus was left abandoned outside of the Blue Ridge Condominium in Medford. (Feb. 11, 2013) Credit: Scott Eidler

UPDATED: 7:23 P.M.

‘A few hours behind schedule’ in Smithtown

John Selzer, 42, of Smithtown, said he didn't see plows in his area from 5 p.m. Friday to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

"It's OK if resources are stretched thin, but there was no communication about if or when we could expect roads to be cleared," he said. "Make a statement. Have something on your website."

Selzer said he finally heard from news reports about a 5 p.m. deadline that the town had set to clear roads.

"Not knowing just leads to a great deal of frustration that Mr. Vecchio lost touch with his residents," said Selzer, adding that he was a past supporter of Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio. "That's disconcerting, especially if he's going to turn around and ask the residents to vote for a 13th term."

But Vecchio said the town's "job of communicating was more than adequate."

"We have Internet information," he said. "I go on Channel 12 to give the updates."

At 3:45 p.m., the town sent out an email emergency alert: "The Town of Smithtown Highway Department is committed to clearing all Smithtown roads as soon as physically possible. We expect to have all main roads as well as residential streets passable later this evening."

Town plows were observed clearing Riviera Drive, in a hilly section of Kings Park, around 5 p.m.

At least two cars got stuck on Violet Road off of Highland Drive because of the snowy and icy conditions.

Around 5:20 p.m., Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen said the department was "a few hours behind schedule."

"Trucks break down. They get stuck," he said, adding that all streets would be clear in time for residents to return to work Monday morning. "I'm not leaving until the streets are open."

- Lauren R. Harrison 

UPDATED: 6:29 P.M.

Limited garbarge pickup

The Town of Brookhaven announced there will be limited garbage pickup on Monday. Full service is expected to return on Tuesday. 

UPDATED: 6:19 P.M.

Roads also a problem in private community

It's not just town roads that are covered in snow and generating complaints.

Louise Suarino, 83, lives in a 55-and-over private community called Greenwood Village in Manorville, where driveways and roadways are typically cleared by the company that owns the complex of one-family homes.

"It looks beautiful but it's getting dangerous," said Suarino, who is diabetic and has a heart condition. "If you need an ambulance, you can't even get through to your house."

In past storms, roads and driveways were clear by now, said Suarino, who said she has called a management office but no one is on-site. "In my living room, I can't see my houses across the street" because of the snow.

A message left on the phone line of Equity Lifestyle Properties, which owns Greenwood Village, said crews were out working and that on average it takes 10 to 12 hours to remove two inches of snow. Greenwood Village got about two feet.


Concern for Monday morning in Riverhead

Nicholas Florio is a mechanic for the U.S. Postal Service in Hicksville.

He called out of work Friday because his shift was due to end after 11 p.m. and he knew getting to his home in the Riverhead section of Wading River would be tough.

With three feet of snow in the street, he's not sure if he'll be able to make it to work again Monday. He called Riverhead town and no one answered. A plow came Friday, but none has since.

Neighbors are clearing driveways, he said, and now "we're just hanging out, looking at each other."


‘Things don’t happen overnight’

Bob Gottfried spent the afternoon digging his Wading River in-laws out of their driveway, which was sitting in almost three feet of snow on Randall Road.

The rest of the road was a mess, too. A plow had come by, but Gottfried described the problem as heavy slush, with layers of ice underneath.

But, Gottfried, 59, said that's what happens when you have a big snowstorm -- things don’t go back to normal the next day.

"It's acceptable,” he said. “For what it is, it's acceptable. It's a lot of snow."

Gottfried, who lives in Manorville, said the road isn't perfect, but it's driveable for most vehicles, though he can understand why small two-wheel-drive sedans have trouble.

"I live on a road like this, and I've passed by dead-ends that haven't been plowed yet, but this is a big storm," he said. "Things don't happen overnight."


Leaving for a warmer life

Seventy-year-old Janet Mager spent two days trying to dig out her driveway, and got only about halfway to the street.

"Fifty years in this house, and I've never seen anything like this," Mager said.

She had enlisted the help Sunday afternoon of two 13-year-old boys, but progress in the several feet of powder was slow.

Mager said her problem is that the plows push more snow up onto her lawn, making it harder for her to dig out.

"They plow me in every year and it's just horrible," she said. "I'm hurting today a little."

Mager lives alone, and said her family has been calling to check on her, but no one has been able to get out to see her.

"When you can't get out you can't get out," she said. "When you get older you get panicky."

After 50 years in the same house, Mager said she can't deal with New York winters and the fierce nor'easters anymore -- she's planning a move to Florida.

"You can come back in two weeks and see a for sale sign," she said. "I'm outta here."


UPDATED: 5:22 P.M.


Broken promises in Holbrook

Joe DiBetta, a longtime Holbrook resident, said Sunday that only one light-vehicle plow had touched his street Saturday night, clearing only about a foot of snow from its center and leaving the roadway impassible.

"I've been here over 25 years, and I've never seen anything like this in my life," said DiBetta, 76, who is retired from the wine importing business. "God forbid -- there are people on the block that are in my age bracket as well -- had any emergency, they would die. You can't get out. It's terrible."

DiBetta said he and his neighbors called the town to complain and were promised their street -- Greenbelt Parkway West -- would be clear by 4 p.m. Sunday, which came and went without seeing a plow, he said.

DiBetta, who lives with his wife and said he has enough food and other supplies, has spoken with friends in Brookhaven similarly blocked in, and said government officials across Suffolk County should have been better prepared.

"Look, I understand that this is probably one of the biggest snowstorms we'd had in a long time, but God, everyone knew days and days before that this was going to be a horrible snowstorm," he said. "My beef right now is that everyone knew about this storm. How can you be so unprepared?"


UPDATED: 5:06 P.M.


Resident: ‘Just clear one path’

Harlene Lobenhofer tried calling the Town of Brookhaven about her unplowed road.
Busy signal.

She filed a report on the town's website, listing Fraternity Lane in Stony Brook. Automatic response.

She called the public safety department and reached a person, explaining her road was under three feet of snow and untouched since Friday night. Put on a list.

"In past storms, we've been plowed before," said Lobenhofer, a teacher's assistant at a special-education preschool. "Nothing like this happened ever. We've been forgotten."

Some local firefighters live on her street and others nearby but getting out is impossible. Driveways and cars are clear, but snow in the road has blocked the path for emergency responders and residents wanting to get out. Nearby, the cross street for W.S. Mount Elementary is covered as well.

"It's just frustrating not seeing one plow," Lobenhofer said. "Just clear one path."

Stony Brook Fire Department had trouble getting volunteers in to staff two stations Sunday, including one near Lobenhofer's house. During superstorm Sandy, they had 20 to 30 in the stations to assist. With roads snowed in and blocked, they had about 12 people, out of a company of 95, said Joe Saggio, an EMT and firefighter.

"People couldn't get here," he said. "We picked up as many as we could. All of the side roads people lived on, we couldn't get to."

When responding to calls, crews hiked into unplowed areas and used sleds to pull them out.

"I've never had to deal with anything like that," Saggio said.


UPDATED: 3:44 P.M.

In deep in Wading River

Several cars sat Sunday afternoon at the bottom of Defense Hill Road in Wading River, a quiet residential road that climbs north from Route 25A up a steady hill that gets steeper and steeper the farther it goes. The neighborhood got more than 30 inches of snow, residents say, and they've seen a plow once - Saturday night, when a town plow made one pass on Defense Hill Road, said Marie Huber, 46.

Pershod Snuggs, 43, said he left his car at the bottom of the road Friday night on his way back from work, and trudged up the hill to his house through thigh-high snow.

There are still about 8 inches of snow on the road there, and most neighbors said they haven't even tried to leave yet, which meant missing church for Snuggs.

"We're stuck, we're not moving at all for the next couple of days, I'm not going to work," he said. "I'm a single guy, I don't care, it's not a big deal."

Snuggs is a tennis pro in Syosset and the drive, he said, could take hours in these conditions.

"I doubt people can get to work," he said. "I'll just be in the house cleaning up and eating."

He said trying to shovel his driveway isn't even worth it, but added that he doesn't mind the weather-induced break from work.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's actually kind of good, I need a break."


UPDATED: 3:35 P.M.

Fed up in Huntington

Max Piep, 58, has been making calls all weekend in efforts to get his Dix Hills street plowed.

He said he encountered a busy tone for two days when calling Huntington's Highways Hotline. He called neighbors on nearby streets and learned all courts but his had been cleared of snow. He dialed the town's security number and was passed from one department to another, until finally someone told him that his street, Haig Drive, and the adjoining Haig Court, had been marked off as plowed, he said.

"They had it in their record that I was done," he said.

He said he informed them of the error and followed up, finally getting results at about 2 p.m. Sunday, when a truck showed up on his block.

"They're not on top of things," Piep said of the town. "They didn't even make one pass until right now. We're talking two days."

Whether it's the town or a company they contract, "someone's at fault, someone's asleep," he said.



Satisfied in Smithtown

Outside of a Smithtown Stop & Shop, Chris Ginther, 55, of Smithtown, praised the response of Smithtown Town crews to the blizzard, saying, "Smithtown has been really good."

He said crews were out in his neighborhood on Plymouth Boulevard north of Old Willets Path on Friday.

"They did a great job," said Ginther, adding that he had just driven around Route 347 in Port Jefferson, which he said was not up to par. "You look at Brookhaven and you look at Smithtown and it's no comparison."

Ralph and Marilyn Fierro, of the San Remo neighborhood of Kings Park, said the side roads where they live were hardly plowed as of Sunday early afternoon, but the closest main road - St. Johnland Road - was plowed.

It took Ralph Fierro, 72, several hours - from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a few breaks - to clear his driveway of the thigh-high snow. A neighbor helped, by lending his quad.

"We have the greatest neighbors," said Marilyn, 70.

Of the town's response to the snow, Marilyn said, "They had a lot on their hands...there's a limited number of trucks," she said. "They had to do the main roads and that's what they needed to do."

Still, Marilyn said, "There was no communication that I knew of from the town. I got information from the news."

Ralph pointed out a silver lining: "Thank goodness we didn't lose electricity."

John Valentine, Smithtown director of public safety, said he wasn't aware of any major injuries stemming from incidences related to the storm. No one was hurt in the collapse of the roof at the bowling alley, he said.

"This is a heavy weighted snowfall and it's just an arduous task to deal with," he said. "There isn't a piece of apparatus, whether it's parks or highways, that isn't out on the road."

Valentine said that his office has been flooded with calls because "all the phones from all the departments come into us."

Six people were handling phone calls by 11 a.m. as opposed to the two people who usually work Sunday mornings, said Valentine. "We want the residents to be able to talk to somebody," he said.

When asked about his response to some residents who said they hadn't received communication from the town about road conditions and cleanup efforts, Valentine said, "All municipalities have to reach some type of methodology so we all can better communicate to our residents."

Still, Valentine said, "What the residents seem to not want to understand is we're aware that these secondary roads are not open," he said. "We're working diligently."


UPDATED: 3:12 P.M.

With no plows, neighbors use snowblowers to clear roads

Brian Myers' East Northport cul-de-sac had not been plowed as of Sunday afternoon, and he said he wouldn't be surprised if Huntington Town never sent trucks to his neighborhood at all this storm. It wouldn't be the first time, he said.

"Winter storms have come and gone, and they haven't plowed," said Myers, 44. "It's one thing to be at the bottom of the list; it's another not to be on the list."

Myers said the town's Highways Hotline had been busy for two days, and he finally got someone on the phone Sunday afternoon. "I'll let them know," the woman had replied of Myers' complaint, he said.

Myers said his frustrated neighbors on Scholar Court have taken matters into their own hands. "There are literally people with their private snow blowers clearing the town road," he said. "I've been tolerating it for a couple of winters, but there's something wrong. I wonder if we fell off the map."

Brian Myers' Scholar Court cul-de-sac has still not been plowed yet, as of 5:45 p.m.


UPDATED: 3:09 P.M.

On a waiting list in Patchogue
On John Street, a residential block off Route 112 in Patchogue, the neighbors are snowed in. No plow trucks have come by, they said Sunday afternoon; snow has built up into 12-foot barriers in some parts of the street.

Ernie Geraci, who is 65 and has lived here for 42 years, said he is worried about traveling to his job Monday in Plainview.

"It's ridiculous," said Geraci, an employee of We Transport Inc. in Plainview. "You live in the land of high taxes, I don't think it's too unreasonable to have your street plowed by Sunday afternoon, when we had this blizzard on Friday night and Saturday."

A handful of neighbors attempted to shovel themselves out of their driveways. Geraci said the roads were passable for SUVs, but his Toyota Camry was no match.

"I hope to get out by nighttime, so I don't lose a day's pay tomorrow."

He might have to leave Patchogue by 5:30 Monday morning, he said, to be on time for his 7 a.m. job.

He said his wife has tried emailing the Town of Brookhaven, so far to no avail. They were put on a waiting list, he said.

"Never, in all the snowstorms we've had in the past 42 years," he said, when asked if the situation was unusual for the town. "I was always able to get down my block the day after a storm."

Complicating matters are the poor road conditions on Route 112, a busy commercial street where drivers have been treading lightly on the roads, still layered with ice and snow.

And elsewhere on John Street, cars are parked on a tilt, packed in by snow.

Across the street, just a few houses away, Patricia Fiebe was clearing her driveway with her sister and other family. She said she awoke at 5:45 Saturday morning, before the sun came up, to begin. She and family have spent at least seven hours total this weekend shoveling their driveway, they said.

"I'm walking to work," vowed Fiebe, 28, who works five blocks away as an appointment coordinator at South Shore Neurologic Associates.

"We've seen a couple of SUVs all of a sudden get stuck," she said. "I don't want to risk [it]."



Neighbors help Centereach woman get to doctor

In Centerreach, Roger Shannon, 71, said he was desperate to get his wife, Margaret, 71, to her regular dialysis treatment, but their street still wasn't plowed as of Sunday afternoon.

The couple had watched and waited as streets around them were cleared several times over, while their own block, Starfire Drive, remained buried under "25 inches of loose powder," Roger Shannon said.

Neighbors stepped up Sunday to help. One used his snow blower, working for an hour to clear a path down the middle of the street. Then, Shannon, with help from other neighbors, walked his wife to a plowed street where their son-in-law was waiting in a car to take her to be treated in Port Jefferson Station.

"It was certainly terrible," Roger Shannon said, "but we got her there."

Shannon said his wife suffers from kidney failure, and though her situation this weekend wasn't life-threatening, it was still urgent.

"I'm sure if my wife was in danger of dying, I would have called 911 and the fire department would have come," he said. "It was not life or death, but it certainly would be damaging her health" to go without treatment.

Shannon said he had filled out an Internet form on the Town of Brookhaven website and called the local police precinct, without immediate results.

"I would understand if nothing in the neighborhood was done, but what I don't understand is why one block, two blocks, three blocks get multiple passes with a snow plow and others aren't getting a visit at all," he said. "It's frustrating."

A truck eventually came by at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday to plow the Shannons' street as they returned from the dialysis appointment, but it cleared only a portion of the block, Roger Shannon said.

"It went one house pass mine and then took off," he said. "I can get my car out, but four-fifths of the houses are still stuck."


UPDATED: 2:26 P.M.

Sledding in Shirley

The hilly and snow-covered embankment by the William Floyd Parkway exit on Sunrise Highway, Exit 58, became a sledding destination for nearly 100 adults and children Sunday afternoon, who said they felt stir-crazy after staying inside their homes Saturday.

Many of them, from hard-hit areas in Suffolk such as Mastic, were looking to escape after a day spent shoveling snow-packed driveways. They took to the slope on sleds and snowboards.

Some drivers spotted the hill while driving west. Others knew to look for it.

Phyllis Zolnowski, 58, of Shirley, brought grandson Nicholas Belosi, 8, to the same hill her own children used to sleigh down.

"Once we have enough snow, we know it's time to come to Sunrise Highway," she said.

Dan Knote, 44, of Speonk, said his two children spent the day indoors while he shoveled out his 70-foot driveway.

But Knote, a construction manager for the Long Island Rail Road, said he woke up Sunday morning feeling inspired. He passes Exit 58 each morning on his route to work.

"I just assumed it was open," he said.

"There's only so many movies you can watch," he added.


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