2 Storm-Related Deaths On LI; Roads, LIRR Service Shut Down

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The monstrous blizzard was blamed for two deaths on Long Island late Saturday.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, a 94-year-old Smithtown man collapsed while using a snowblower, and a neighbor rushed to give him CPR. Police also gave the man CPR, but he was later pronounced dead.

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A 61-year-old Nassau County man also died while using a snowblower, Gusoff reported.

The blizzard, which was near the point of setting an all-time record late Saturday, forced officials to issue a road travel ban and suspend train service Saturday. There were also concerns about flooding when high tide struck in the early evening.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano told CBS2’s Dick Brennan and Cindy Hsu that the county was ready for the worst.

He said the county was prepared for the possibility of homeowners being stranded and having to be rescued.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was likewise worried about flooding at high tide, particularly on the South Shore.

“Snow we can deal with, wind we can deal with, the flooding is the nightmare scenario,” Cuomo said. “We’ve been through this before, the flooding is the worst, it’s the worst danger and it does the most damage.”

Cuomo said Long Island is especially vulnerable and the National Guard is ready to move in if flooding becomes a problem.

A military vehicle outfitted to navigate frigid and flooded streets is now in the arsenal of the West Babylon Fire Department. Gusoff rode along with rescue crews in communities that face the Great South Bay.

“We are seeing the water level, we are right at the dock level, so the water is about to come over the dock,” said West Babylon Fire Chief Crissy Manzi. “We’ve seen it high, unfortunately, but this is not a good sign to start now.”

Flooding concerns capped off a day that seemed endless for snow plow drivers and first responders.

Road crews kept up with the main highways, but with high winds and drifting snow, police responded to dozens of stranded cars on roads in Nassau County and spin outs in Suffolk County.

Hours after declaring a state of emergency for New York, Cuomo issued a travel ban on state roads, which went into effect at 2:30 p.m. with the exception of non-emergency vehicles. The shutdown will continue until 7 a.m. Sunday.

The Long Island Rail Road also stopped running at 4 p.m. because the tracks are icing over and trains are getting stranded, Cuomo said. Cuomo said they would assess conditions at 6 a.m. Sunday.

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“We have had trains that have been stranded and we’ve gotten people off those trains,” Cuomo said.

A blizzard warning is in effect until 7 a.m. Sunday for Long Island most of New Jersey and coastal Connecticut.

The storm was officially declared a blizzard just before 9 a.m. after three hours of sustained winds and less than a quarter-mile of visibility.

A total of 18 to 24 inches were anticipated for Long Island. As of 9:30 p.m., West Hempstead saw 22.4 inches of accumulation, Islip saw 22, and Farmingville 21.

But for a few people out shoveling for neighbors, the streets of Babylon Village were virtually deserted Saturday evening and everything was closed, Gusoff reported.

Meanwhile, sand barriers were put up along the beach in Long Beach to help prevent flooding from reaching nearby properties, CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said that although the winds are gusting and visibility is low, the town was spared any flooding during Saturday morning’s high tide.

With wind gusts of up to 50 mph, power outages are another major concern across Long Island.

By 9 p.m., PSEG Long Island was reporting 857 customers without power. Earlier Satruday, more than 2,500 customers were in the dark.

The utility has brought in extra crews from upstate New York, Vermont and Canada to help deal with the storm response.

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