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Nor'easter moves away as LI returns to life but more light snow, icing makes for slippery roads

One day after a major nor'easter dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the region, paralyzing travel and leaving communities with a giant cleanup, Newsday's Chelsea Irizarry spoke with LIers about the problems they've experienced with flooding and loss of power. Credit: Newsday staff; Facebook / Governor Andrew Cuomo

This story was reported by John Asbury, Robert Brodsky, Alfonso A. Castillo, Matthew Chayes, Vera Chinese, Jesse Coburn, Mark Harrington, Carl MacGowan, Deborah Morris, Keldy Ortiz, Jean-Paul Salamanca, Nicholas Spangler, John Valenti and Dandan Zou. It was written by Brodsky and Chayes.

Long Island slowly came back to life Tuesday, one day after a major nor'easter dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the region, paralyzing travel and leaving communities with a giant cleanup.

And while light snow fell Tuesday, making for slippery roads again, the focus turned to digging out from one of the largest storms to blanket the Island in years — leaving more than 18 inches in East Northport and more than 17 in Hicksville.

"This was a big storm that delivered a powerful punch," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, adding that 90% of county roads were down to blacktop. "But we’ve come through it in pretty good shape."

Areas of snow showers began developing across the region again Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said. The snow began sticking to roadways, particularly in areas where temperatures were at or below freezing and accumulations of up to an inch are possible, the weather service said.

With temperatures expected to dip below freezing Tuesday night, forecasters warned that untreated surfaces could become icy and slippery for the evening and Wednesday morning commute.

Meanwhile, in some parts of the South Shore, flooding remained an issue.

In Brightwaters late Tuesday afternoon, a man drove a Mercedes onto Concourse East near Marine Court, where his car was submerged in waist-high water, requiring the rescue of the occupants — man, woman and dog, Suffolk police said. The trio was transported to their home, and no one was injured.

Forecasters are also tracking two other potential systems that may impact New York on Friday and Sunday.

"The potential is there for another storm," said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Wunsch. "We could get nothing, or it could be another nor’easter."

For now, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the county was slowly returning to normal, saying, "Nassau County’s roads are in excellent condition and are mostly down to blacktop."

Some businesses with large parking lots, such as strip malls and gas stations, created additional challenges as crews pushed snow onto plowed streets, forcing Nassau workers to clear the roads a second time, Curran said.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lifted a ban, imposed Monday, on commercial vehicles, empty trailers and tandem trailers on state highways, bridges and tunnels maintained by the MTA and Port Authority.

For the second consecutive day, hundreds of Island schools were closed, while state vaccination sites, including at SUNY Stony Brook, Jones Beach, Aqueduct Racetrack and the Javits Center, were shuttered. The vaccination sites will reopen on Wednesday, Cuomo said, and residents were encouraged to contact their appointment sites to reschedule.

PSEG Long Island said it was working to restore the final customer outages from a Monday storm that impacted 21,000 customers at one point, while monitoring for the prospect of heavy winds over the next 24 hours, spokeswoman Ashley Chauvin said.

Damage to the system was minimal, and the system "performed well," Chauvin said. There were no problems with the telephone and outage management computer system, which conked out during Tropical Storm Isaias.

The storm closed down the region when at full strength and forced residents to cope with slippery roads, snow-laden driveways, flooded streets and restricted travel.

There was a rash of car crashes — 108 in Suffolk and 160 in Nassau, although none serious — along with a number of snowblower accidents.

An 11-year-old boy in Freeport suffered "severe" leg lacerations when his clothing got entangled in a snowblower Monday while helping his father and grandfather clear snow, authorities said.

A Freeport village spokesperson said the boy, whose name has not been released, was taken to NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola.

A 50-year-old man in Herricks lost the tip of his thumb in a snowblower accident, while a 49-year-old man from South Farmingdale cut off his middle finger while using a snowblower, said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Richard LeBrun.

A man in Nissequogue had several of his fingertips severed in an incident with a snowblower Monday, while a Huntington Town man had a heart attack while shoveling but survived, Bellone said.

Air travel resumed at the region's airports, though 45% of flights had been canceled, said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs the region's airports.

Long Island Rail Road service, suspended Monday, resumed Tuesday morning although officials said ridership was low. The LIRR operated on a weekend schedule. Port Jefferson and Cross Sound Ferry service also resumed Tuesday.

The public bus systems in Nassau and Suffolk counties were running again Tuesday, though with some detours and changes due to poor road conditions.

Long Island town leaders said the cleanup from Monday's storm has been daunting after such a rapid snowfall.

"There were several whiteout conditions that it didn’t matter if they weren’t plowing because snow was accumulating behind them," Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said.

The snow was a challenge for residents who live in cul-de-sacs, including Oak Court in Oceanside, where a pile of snow blocked in several cars.

"You have that frozen mound that’s out there throughout that entire court that makes it impossible for people to get over it," said Karen Meagher of Oceanside. "And you know we have older neighbors that need to get out at some point."

Road crews in some towns were hampered, officials said, by cars left parked on streets despite laws and states of emergencies requiring cars to be moved to driveways and parking lots.

"It is a problem," said Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. "It makes it difficult. It’s not only inconsiderate, it‘s against the law. … When it’s a snow emergency, it makes it that much more egregious."

The town was responding to reports of flooding in South Shore communities, such as Oakdale, and on Fire Island, which had 10 to 12 inches of water, Carpenter said.

Babylon Town spokesman Dan Schaefer said cleanup in town is anticipated to last through Wednesday — and possibly the end of the week.

"We saw moderate flooding in our low-lying areas as a result of the latest high tide and snow and ice buildup blocking storm drains," he said.

On West Lido Promenade in the American Venice neighborhood, John Vogt said his wife was moving the cars to prevent water from seeping inside.

"I’m becoming an expert at changing brakes because of the saltwater," said Vogt, chairman of the American Venice Civic Association, adding there was about a foot of water on the block. "Saltwater just wreaks havoc on steel."

Huntington officials were asking for patience of residents if they call the highway department and no one answers.

"The phones just keep ringing," said Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli. "We do have people answering the phones, we’re just getting overwhelmed with calls."

Orelli said he lost about 40 vehicles Monday from breakdowns and private contractors who could not stay, likely because of exhaustion.

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro blamed persistent strong winds and the hourslong storm for covering streets that already had been plowed.

"We are working our way strategically through each of these roadways, neighborhood by neighborhood," Losquadro said.

The storm was more forgiving on the East End. Southold, which received 6 to 7 inches of snow, Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando said Tuesday that all roads were cleared.

"The only saving grace was that the moist snow and rain stopped all the drifting," Orlando said. "Otherwise, we would have been plowing all night long."

In Southampton, there was some minor coastal erosion in vulnerable spots along the Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, particularly at Quogue Village Beach, where a sandbag revetment became exposed, said town public safety and emergency management administrator Ryan Murphy.

"We’re thankful that this one didn’t go worse than it went," Murphy said. "Had this shifted just a little bit more, had that rain-snow line been a little bit farther, we could have seen a foot of more of snow and that would have been much more problematic for us."

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