FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The digout, and the frustration, continued on Long Island throughout the day Wednesday, after a winter storm dumped well over 2 feet of snow in some parts of Suffolk County.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said towns and villages have been doing their best to get side streets “up and running” in the aftermath of the blizzard.
He said there is no question that the east end of Long Island was the hardest hit by the storm, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Bellone said plow operators and emergency responders have been praising the “very effective” decision to close the roads to the public during the height of the storm.
“You can’t underestimate how important that is to the snow plow operators and other emergency responders in effectively dealing with the storm,” he said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that about 500 pieces of equipment, including plows, dump trucks and front-end loaders, were on their way to Suffolk County from New York City and the mid-Hudson Valley.
“It takes days to clean up and that’s why we’re really looking at those state assets Gov. Cuomo has delivered and figuring out how we can make sure that they’re in the proper location, giving them everything that they need,” Bellone said.
The National Guard also is bringing special snow-clearing equipment to Suffolk.
Humvees being used in Suffolk and Nassau counties are retired military vehicles, Hall reported.
“That’s been very successful in helping assist motorists during these extreme weather events,” Bellone said.
Many residents said they too expect to be digging out for a few days.
“I wasn’t expecting this much,” one Southampton resident told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “We got pounded.”
“There’s a lot to clean up out here,” Hauppauge resident Nancy Macca told CBS2’s Ilana Gold.
At the Central Islip Long Island Rail Road station Wednesday morning, people were telling tales about digging out from 18, 20 or 24 inches of snow, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“A lot of snowblowing. Back’s hurting a little bit today,” Carlos Grassa said. “But still better than going to work.”
Ann Davis, however, took it easy.
“Just watched the coverage on the storm, relaxed, did a couple of things around the house,” she said.
And at Nassau University Medical Center, the ER is packed and staff is working overtime, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
ER Chief D. Anthony Boutin said the majority of patients are seeking help after weather-related incidents from shoveling or falling.
“Concussions, scalp lacerations, lower back constraint,” Boutin said.
Cuomo noted there were only a handful of car accidents reported on Long Island during the storm, a likely result of the travel ban put in place during the storm. Bellone said the low number of highway incidents was “directly attributable to governor’s travel ban.”
Both officials said they learned lessons from a near-debacle during a storm two years ago, which found dozens of motorists stuck on roads across eastern Long Island for up to 10 hours or more.
And as for complaints back toward the city about the blizzard being over-hyped and the storm not being as big as expected, Long Island residents reminded everyone that for them, the storm was every bit as bad as feared.
“They can have it,” said John Henihan of Southampton. “Send ’em on out.”
North, South Forks Remained Swamped
Particularly serious problems were seen on both the North and South forks on the eastern end of Long Island. As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, chest-high drifts were seen throughout Main Street in Southampton, as state workers mobilized massive payloaders to clear roads still closed.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, even late on Wednesday night, the snowbound downtown in Southampton was half picture-postcard, and half logistic nightmare.
Contractor Michael Jackowski said he moved about 2,000 yards of snow in one day. And for residents, a repetitive routine has set in.
“Come out. Shovel a little bit, and then relax,” said Justin Debrow of Southampton. “Everything’s closed. Nothing’s open.”
There were a few businesses that were open. But even the business owners who stayed open through the storms later decided maybe it wasn’t worth it.
Restaurant owner Zach Erdem said he had no customers until finally two days later, “We got some people today for lunch and some dinner.”
But there weren’t many. On Tuesday morning, Southampton was stuck with buried intersections, massive drifts, and an ocean of white. The municipality faced a very steep climb back to normalcy brought about by a tremendous physical effort.
“I know some guys that went out on Monday night; didn’t come back home till Wednesday,” said the Rev. Marvin Dozier of the Unity Baptist Church. “The relief that the governor and them are sending, I think it’s very much to our advantage.”
Dozier was talking about upstate crews dispatched to Long Island by Albany. Southampton residents also gave the state high marks for keeping motorists off the streets during the storm.
Many were also worried about black ice under the snow piles as they tried to cross streets, calling conditions very treacherous and expressing concern that people could fall.
But some homeowners couldn’t even get that far, as they remained boxed into their houses.
“We had just about 30 inches of snow, and we had such strong winds that the snow just drifted – and despite us plowing, we had to come back out; come back out again,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
Residents said they were thankful for the travel ban overnight Monday into Tuesday, which proved key to clearing road efforts. All day, the young were seen volunteering to help the old dig out.
The next step is clearing out school lots so the schools can reopen.
“We’ve had some really big snowstorms, but this is an epic one,” said Southampton school teacher Vincent Mangano. “Main Street has been closed for a day and a half – it’s unprecedented.”
The situation is so unprecedented that locals have posed for pictures among the wintry mess – as if they were tourists in their own hometowns.
But while locals say “cheese,” small businesses were running for salt all day. Keith Davis has owned the Golden Pear Café in Southampton for 30 years.
“It’s not every day, you know, that you see these types of payloaders here that are moving this massive amounts of snow – which is very unusual,” Davis said. He said in the history of his business, he has only closed maybe three times – this storm being one of them.
Meanwhile, nearby Lake Agawam froze – a rarity in Southampton. The wind was so powerful from the northeast that it knocked 20-foot swells down to 8 feet – lessening the force against the coastline.
But 8 feet of snow is what restaurant-goers might have to climb over to go to dinner at a fancy eatery in Southampton.
Meanwhile, the highest snow totals of the region were seeing on the North Fork. The area is largely agricultural and outdoor work is part of daily life, but on Wednesday, it took a different form.
As was seen down in Southampton, tiny Greenport on the North Fork was also abuzz Wednesday with massive payloaders. The summer seaside resort was left snowed in like a ski town.
“Ridiculous,” said Jessica DiMartino, manager of the Rhum Line Restaurant. “Nobody’s — it’s like a ghost town. You can’t drive anywhere. We’re just finally plowing everything. It’s been a mess.”
The storm also dumped staggering amounts of snow on North Fork towns – 30 inches in Orient, and nearly that much in Laurel. Snow in the latter town was piled up to the tops of mailboxes, and farm land was left blanketed in waist-high drifts.
“It just shuts everything down,” said contractor Tom Gabrielsen. “You have workers – you know, I have my guys call. They want to come to work and work today, and there’s nothing we really can do.”
For those with glass houses, there were worries about roof collapses. The owner of Jamesport Greenhouses spent a sleepless night clearing rooftop snow off 100 greenhouses, and the next day was contending with 10-foot snow drifts.
“What helped us out was the amount of wind; that the snow was nice and light,” said Jamesport Greenhouses owner Ed Powers. “It blew it right off the greenhouses, so none of them collapsed.”
And Powers’ tiny annuals were no worse for the wear, as they were kept warm and toasty indoors.
Southold town officials also credited the light snow and strong winds for a quick recovery, as the snow proved easy to clear off roads. But two days later, their biggest problem was the question of where to put it all.
“We are locating strategic places throughout the town — town beaches, town parks,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.
Even though the North Fork is surrounded by water, the snow cannot be dumped into bays or the Long Island Sound because it is from dirty roads.
Meantime, snowbound seniors got a little help from ROTC students, spending their second day off from school helping neighbors.
“People like this – they just need a little something,” said Greenport High School sophomore Jack Webster. “And I feel like that’s the right thing to do.”
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)