Clear 26° Good Morning
Clear 26° Good Morning

Long Island snow stories: Locals dig out after the storm

Krysztof Blaszczyk, 39, and his daughter Julia, 8,

Krysztof Blaszczyk, 39, and his daughter Julia, 8, on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, show how big the snowmen that her father and a friend, Zygmunt Pieta, built near their Riverhead homes while a heavy snowstorm walloped all of Long Island. Photo Credit: Newsday / David Schwartz

As the nor’easter finally left the region Sunday, Long Islanders began an arduous dig-out. Here are some snapshots of how they coped.

In Riverhead

Neighbors Krysztof Blaszczyk and Zygmunt Pieta of Riverhead built a 7-foot-tall snowman during the storm Saturday and they gave him a slightly smaller companion Sunday.

They said they built them for their kids, before ’fessing up.

“We’re big kids you know,” Blaszczyk, 39, said. “We didn’t grow up.”

The two men, from Poland, welcomed the weather.

“We love snow,” Pieta said. “We’re from Poland.”

— David M. Schwartz

In Plainview

The white sedan was spinning in its wheels, and three neighbors ran out to help.

“A lot of people are getting stuck here,” said Jonathan Vosilla, 38, who lives behind the Plainview Public Library where the roads were caked with knee-high snow. The two-way road was too narrow for cars to pass.

Frustrated neighbors were outside Sunday afternoon shoveling driveways and pushing the stuck cars. “We’ve all helped each other out,” Vosilla said.

Vosilla on Saturday cleared part of his neighbor Celeste Lopes’ sidewalk. Lopes, 57, is blind and was shoveling again Sunday. She lives with her elderly parents and worried about access to roads in an emergency. Blocking her driveway “is a wall of snow,” she said.

Sam Spector, 25, was nearby clearing out the driveway for an elderly neighbor who was away. Earlier in the day, he had helped push two cars out of the street. “We need to get more plows,” Spector said.

Vosilla said the neighbors are concerned about the roads. “We can’t get out of our driveways,” Vosilla said. “This is just a mess.”

— Scott Eidler

In Huntington Station

By noon Sunday, Alberto Flores, 32, had spent two hours trying to dig a Jeep and another truck out of the snow in his driveway.

Bundled up under a heavy coat and hood, Flores used a worn plastic shovel to scrape away the ice stuck to the concrete.

He appeared to grow tired of tossing the snow after a few minutes, but found a second wind when his Spanish-speaking neighbor pleaded for help.

“Do you need help,” Flores asked the elderly man whose van was stuck in more than a foot of snow.

“Yes, please,” the neighbor responded in Spanish.

With the assistance of three other neighbors, the men rocked the carmel-colored van back and forth until the front-rear tire loosened away from the snow.

“It’s all about helping neighbors. He needed my help so I helped him,” Flores said, before returning to his driveway to keep digging out.

— Deon J. Hampton

In Huntington

Danalo Romero, 27 of Hicksville, and two of his friends were out at 9 a.m. knocking on doors along Cold Spring Hills Road in Huntington to offer their services shoveling out cars and driveways.

The El Salvador native, who does landscaping work when the weather is warmer, said it was a way to make a little extra cash in the off season.

“Now I need some money,” Romero said, laughing and holding up his arms as if to show off his biceps. He said that he “likes the hard work,” which the trio was doing without the assistance of a snowblower.

Business was good so far — Romero said he and his friends had done three driveways in their first two hours and planned to keep working until their energy was spent.

— Valerie Bauman

In Calverton

Others took a more charitable view of the storm, buoyed by weekend timing and snowblowers.

“The snowblower is a God send,” said Matt Bokee, 32, of Calverton. After getting a snow day from his job at the Tanger Outlets on Saturday, his kids were looking to go out.

“They’re begging me to go sledding,” he said. “We love the snow.”

— David M. Schwartz

In Plainview

The weekend was a marathon effort for Ramiro Gandara, 37, of Holtsville, and other drivers of snowplowing trucks.

Many drivers who work in the seasonal business have other responsibilities throughout the year, like Gandara, who works in masonry.

“In the winter, we don’t do a lot of masonry,” Gandara, as he filled his truck up at Cumberland Farms in Plainview. “This is fun.”

His job Sunday was to clear out commercial parking lots. He had been working since 4 a.m. Saturday in the early hours of the storm. He has slept a few hours and said Red Bull is the key to “keep going.”

“We need more snow,” Gandara said, joking again.

The trick is to clear “a little at a time” and to start with the “main arteries” of parking lots.

His plan for Monday is to “sleep all day.”

“Hibernation,” he said. But it was just 10:30 Sunday morning. He got back on his truck and headed to his next job.

— Scott Eidler

In Huntington Station

Huntington Station resident William Hygh, 24, was at a local convenience store buying snacks Sunday morning. Later in the day he planned take his girlfriend out to lunch.

“I’m from upstate New York so heavy snow isn’t out of the question,” he said.

Hygh said he wasn’t expecting the amount of snow that Long Island received on Saturday.

“It was a little disappointing having it be so wrong,” he said of early snow forecasts that projected eight inches of snow.

— Deon J. Hampton

In Plainview

When Joy Solomon, 56, walked out of her Plainview condo to clear the snow, the piles were up to her waist.

She called her friend in Syosset, who recommended a snow removal company whose employees had been digging out cars for several of her neighbors in the condo, she said.

“There’s no way I can do this physically,” she said. “We network on Long Island; we have friends.”

Solomon said she could not recall a storm as powerful as Saturday’s.

“It’s a beautiful day until you realize you have 30 inches of snow to clear out,” she said.

— Scott Eidler

In Dix Hills

Talk about a family snow affair.

Anthony Caruso woke up Sunday thinking his snowblower was going to remove the knee-high snow in his driveway on Lauren Avenue in Dix Hill. That was until a belt on the 10-year-old, $900 blower broke. He and his wife shoveled the driveway for at least three hours while his daughter and brother-in-law played in the front yard snow.

“I’ll be honest, I’m tired of the shoveling,” he said, throwing another scoop of snow away from the driveway.

Caruso, 56, who said he swallowed two Tylenols before getting started, also complained about the lack of snow plowing on his street.

“I’ll be honest with you, they normally do a good job. but there hasn’t been much plowing,” Caruso said.

He said he saw two plow trucks on Saturday and that by Sunday morning, only one lane on his two-way street was clear.

— Deon J. Hampton

In Plainview

Al Della Penna, 82, of Plainview, removed snow from his car near Solomon’s Sunday morning. He had been shoveling for 90 minutes and would stop soon, when his fingers and feet got too cold.

“I love this kind of weather — warm and sunny enough to melt,” Della Penna said.

He and his wife had returned from Florida Friday — a day earlier than planned to beat the storm.

His condo development hires crews to clear out the lots, but the residents must shovel out their own cars.

The retired Suffolk County police officer said he and his wife spent Saturday watching the blizzard unfold. “We were concerned about the digging out,” he said. As the snowfall accumulated, the couple grew “more and more anxious.”

But he said “we have this great community and staff” that has offered residents help with clearing out the snow.

He was planning to break for lunch. After, “I’ll smoke a cigar and relax.”

— Scott Eidler

More news

Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to Newsday is free for Optimum customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.