Snow-Weary Residents On L.I. Say Some Neighborhoods Still Not Plowed
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Four days after a massive snowstorm, many snow-weary residents on Long Island say their neighborhoods have yet to see any major plowing.
Residential roads in portions of Brookhaven, Huntington, Smithtown, Islip and Ronkonkoma still remain covered in snow and ice after Friday’s storm dumped up to 30 inches of snow on Suffolk County.
“None, not a plow yet,” said Ronkonkoma resident Mike Dubois. “It’s amazing. There’s really no excuse for it.”
“This is a nightmare. It is a disaster,” said Islip resident Mark Donato. “There is no way to get to my street. Nothing has been plowed and what has been plowed has turned to ice.”
Plows and snow removal equipment from other parts of the state are still on the ground in Suffolk clearing away the piles of snow.
“We’ve got dozens of assets throughout the towns, we have nearly 100 assets in the town of Brookhaven at the state level trying to assist the town of Brookhaven, getting those streets open. People have every right to be frustrated,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “We’re throwing everything that the state has now into townships and Brookhaven, particularly, to assist them.”
Bellone said in his years of public service, he cannot remember a storm clean-up effort like this.
“We’ve never had an event where the state actually has provided their own resources to assist localities in getting snow removed from the roads. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Bellone told Hall.
All around Suffolk County, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported neighbors were wondering if that was why dozens of miles of roads remained unplowed.
“The oil company just came,” said Richard Gildard of Selden. “I’ve been four days without heat because the oil truck could not get through.”
Gildard and his Selden neighbors feel dangerously snowbound.
“Where’s the plows when you need them?” asked Michael Mahoney of Nesconset. “For all the taxes you pay around here, it’s ridiculous.”
Portions of the towns of Brookhaven, Smithtown, Islip and Huntington have such hard-packed ice, it is like driving on the moon.
Neighbors came to the rescue on Pond Drive in Ronkonkoma.
“I’m a school bus driver. My district is closed — Sachem is closed. We couldn’t get out if we wanted to,” said Peter Mastropolo.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s very treacherous driving. Send some plows. Put some sand down,” added Christine Mastropolo.
In Brookhaven, residents are upset after learning Town Supervisor Ed Romaine has been on vacation.
“The fact that he went on vacation is not the right thing,” one resident said. “He should be here with the rest of us.”
“It’s totally ludicrous,” said another. “I mean they should never make the people go through this.”
Commissioner of Waste Management Matt Miner said it’s not fair to criticize Romaine’s vacation to the Caribbean because it was a pre-planned trip.
“Supervisor Romaine has been in constant contact with the town and our key management,” Miner told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “He’s been desperately trying to get a flight back. The airports have been backed up and the fog last night didn’t help, but he is en route back.”
Miner said work has been going on around the clock since the storm and said additional equipment is being brought in Tuesday from New York City and Nassau County to help clear the snow.
“I understand the frustration residents are faced with but we are out there and we have not stopped and we will not stop until this is done,” he said.
But Romaine was not the only one who has been absent.
“In the Highway Department, we had the acting superintendent call in sick with a tooth problem,” said Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert.
Brookhaven town officials have been bombarded with criticism – how dare the highway superintendent not come in for the storm that dumped three feet in some areas.
Anthony Aiello came to the town hall to complain, wondering why highway trucks were not dispatched.
“I come here and the place is closed for Lincoln’s Birthday, and meanwhile, there’s trucks parked all over here,” he said.
Other elected officials agreed that the highway superintendent has no excuse.
“The acting highway superintendent, who has not shown up or risen to the level of the job, I don’t want to hear about his toothache,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Daniel Panico.
Critics have complained that dozens of trucks are not being used properly. One from upstate broke its plow.
“We have a total crew that came out of the Albany division of the Thruway – of 23 trucks plus two supervisors” just in Brookhaven alone, said New York State Thruway Supervisor Barry Sheil.
Residents still digging had unanswered questions.
“I don’t know how the town handled this, but someone should look into it and investigate why it took so long,” said Michael DiMartino of Lake Grove.
Meanwhile in Huntington, special equipment from Syracuse has been brought in to help with snow removal. Crews are using a Sno Go — a special blower capable of moving tons of snow at once.
“The way we clean the roads versus the way they did them here — we use a different procedure,” equipment operator Leonard Cage told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
Meanwhile, many Long Island residents vented Monday night at Gov. Andrew Cuomo and local officials for their response to the storm.
“I can’t speak to how the plowing was done in Nassau vs. Suffolk vs. New York City. I just don’t know,” Cuomo said. “It really was isolated to Suffolk County.”
Cuomo said Saturday that more than 500 pieces of extra equipment were brought in to help clear snow and ice from roads across Long Island.
Bellone added that changes need to be made to ensure that all roads are properly cleared off in a timely fashion in the future.
“What we learned out of this storm is we need to have a coordination plan between the different levels of government,” Bellone told Hall.
Since the blizzard hit Suffolk, the roof of a home collapsed, the Smith Haven Mall was forced to evacuate on Monday and <a title=”Threat Of Roof Collapses Plagues Suffolk County After Blizzard” href=”http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/02/12/threat-of-roof-collapses-plagues-suffolk-county-after-blizzard/Deer Park High School students were sent home early due to a leaky roof.
Smithtown Building Department director John Bongino said the heavy piles of snow have to be removed or a collapse can occur.
“On flat roofs especially, there are drains up there and they get clogged or frozen and then we have the weight of snow, slush and water on the roof,” Bongino told Hall.
That’s exactly what happened in Patchogue village, where a store roof caved in, spewing chunks of snow into the building.
“With all the weight of the snow and ice it collapsed,” Patchogue Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Cordaro told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
The commercial space was vacant so no one was hurt, but fire and rescue officials said it’s a graphic example of why business owners need to clear heavy snow off of flat roofs, especially now.
“The rain, while it diminished the snow, it actually made the snow even heavier,” Suffolk Fire and Rescue Commissioner Joe William said.
Cave-ins have been a recurring problem since Mother Nature did her thing. On Saturday, a Smithtown bowling alley roof collapsed. On Monday, the sprawling Smith Haven Mall was closed after its roof sprang leaks in 25 stores. Photos taken inside the closed mall revealed ceiling damage. Fire officials said they found 7-foot snow drifts on the roof. All but six stores were open Tuesday afternoon as repairs continued.
Roofing companies have been inundated with calls.
“There’s drainage systems and scuppers and pitch pockets and all to shed water off a roof, and when you have that much snow, they get blocked up, and then when you get a heavy rain right behind it, there’s absolutely nowhere for the water to [go]. Water will find a way in,” said Bob Colquhoun of Highlander Roofing.
Fire officials said homeowners with pitched roofs need not worry, but flat roofs should be cleared if there is any sign of a leak, because it could lead to a collapse.
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