Watch CBS News

County Executive Bellone Says Suffolk 'Hit Hard' By Storm

COMMACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Highway crews passed over wind-whipped snowdrifts multiple times, as residents slowly began digging out from as much as two feet of snow following a blizzard that forced officials to preemptively close roads and commuter rail lines overnight Tuesday across Long Island.

A winter storm warning remains in effect for Suffolk County until midnight.

CHECK: Forecast & Alerts | Traffic & TransitSchool Closings & Delays | Flight Status | Cold Weather & Safety Tips

The National Weather Service said at one point, snow was falling 2 inches per hour in Suffolk. By mid-morning, snow accumulations had exceeded 20 inches in some spots.

By Tuesday night, Orient saw 28.5 inches of snow, Southampton was hit with 28 inches and Medford measured in at 25.6 inches, CBS2 Meteorologist Elise Finch reported.

"We are still dealing with a real storm here in Suffolk County," County Executive Steve Bellone said "While many parts of the region may feel like they dodged a bullet, that was not the case here in Suffolk County, we were hit by it and we were hit hard."

"Suffolk took it right on the chin," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

But help is on the way, according to the governor.

"What we are doing is redeploying all the assets that we had in the mid-Hudson and New York City and we're moving them all to Suffolk County," Governor Cuomo said.

As CBS2's Elise Finch reported, plows were still out in Eastern Suffolk County late Tuesday, and residents in Mattituck still had their work cut out for them.

"I still have shoveling to do. I have two feet of snow in front of my neighbor's house," Lauren Combs said.

Plows made steady progress throughout the day and overnight, thanks in part to the travel ban.

Suffolk County police reported two fatalities. In Huntington, a 17-year-old boy snow-tubing down a street with friends crashed into a light pole and died. In Bay Shore, an 83-year-old man with dementia was found dead in his backyard Tuesday morning.

A county police spokeswoman said there were only two car accidents reported during the storm -- a likely result of a travel ban that Cuomo imposed downstate ahead of the blizzard.

"We saw fewer accidents, less than a handful of accidents here in Suffolk County, and in my mind there is no doubt that that is directly attributable to the governor's decisive action in implementing a travel ban," Bellone said.

County Executive Bellone Says Suffolk 'Hit Hard' By Storm

In Nassau County, Executive Ed Mangano said there were at least 160 accidents since the start of the storm.

"That's about double what we would normally expect on a good day, but far less than we would expect during blizzard-like conditions," Mangano told 1010 WINS. "A lot of that is due to the fact that residents really did stay off the roads during the worst of the storm."

In Massapequa, about 18 inches of snow fell and while snowplows quickly tackled the main roads across Nassau, the same couldn't be said for many side streets, CBS2's Weijia Jiang reported from Mobile2.

Although state and local officials anticipate a normal business day Wednesday, many parts of Nassau County are still covered with thick sheets of snow.

Jiang spotted many plows and salt trucks treating the roads.

Officials said 130 trucks are out treating the roads as the potential for icing over threatens to create a messy morning commute Wednesday.

The travel ban on Long Island was lifted at about 8 a.m. Tuesday, but the governor and Bellone noted that drivers still needed to remain cautious on still snow-packed highways and urged residents to stay off the roads if possible.

"We've lifted the travel ban, that doesn't mean people should rush outside," Cuomo said. "The roads are still difficult, especially a lot of the side roads. If you don't have to be driving around you shouldn't be driving around."

County Executive Bellone Says Suffolk 'Hit Hard' By Storm

The widespread highway closures appeared to be a lesson learned from a near-debacle during a storm two years ago, which found dozens of motorists stuck on roadways across eastern Long Island for up to 10 hours or more.

Those who were out clearing the roads early Tuesday morning said the ban made plowing the snow easier.

"The ban worked wonders, nobody's on the road," a snow plow operator told 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria.

Islip Town Officials Hold Briefing On Storm

Police said for the most part people heeded the warnings while the travel ban was in effect.

In East Hills Village, one driver said she slid on a patch of ice, lost control and went off the roadway. A police officer  said once he got her to safety he was going to issue her a ticket for $300 -- the fine for violating the travel ban, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.

Town of Islip Councilman John Cochrane said one person was given a summons for violating the ban.

Cuomo said there's days of work to be done before things return to normal in Suffolk County.

"There is a significant challenge in Suffolk County," Cuomo said. "Two feet of snow is a lot of snow anyway you slice it and the team has been doing a great job but it is still a massive undertaking."

Plowing, shoveling and sanding; that's how people across Suffolk spent the day following the snowstorm. Still, some people say the fluffy snow made for an easy cleanup, CBS2's Finch reported.

"This is pretty dry, pretty easy to pick up," said Peter Green, of Aquebogue. "Maybe I won't feel that way tomorrow but right now it's pretty good."

Others said Tuesday's shoveling was hard work.

"The top layer was nice and fluffy. The bottom part is where the weight comes in and it's backbreaking," said Aquebogue resident Luis Pagan.

"It's exciting to have it, but then you gotta do something with it," said Cutchogue resident Terry Woodhull, that's why he swears by his riding snowblower.

"You can put the snow where you need to put it instead of it piling up in front of doors and that kind of stuff," Woodhull said.

On Love Lane in the heart of Mattituck, business owners said they're preparing to re-open Wednesday because even though this was a big storm, people know how to handle it.

"I think we're all New Yorkers, we know how to deal with it," said Brendan Fidell, co-owner of Love Lane Kitchen.

"Everyone just takes one day off. Better safe than sorry," said Carolyn Iannone, another co-owner of Love Lane Kitchen.

Bellone said he believes it will be a few days until things return back to normal, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

In Riverhead, an environmental scientist visiting Long Island from New Mexico, Arizona pulled out the yardstick -- 23 inches, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

But drifts are even taller, making recovery slow and sometimes dangerous.

"It's just the wind, the wind's what's killing us," said Riverhead Town worker Kevin Rambo. "Especially on the roads for the highway guys, they go back one time, wind blows it back over."

East End towns came to a standstill, street after street on the twin forks were barely navigable.

"This blizzard is one the largest we've ever seen, and it will take some time to remove," said Bellone. "This is a long term event."

Most businesses remained shuttered, including the huge Tanger Outlets mall.

"I think 24 inches of snow is what fell, and drifting a little bit deeper, maybe about 3 feet," said Thomas Foster, who was working snow removal.

Foster and his crew made headway thanks to some massive equipment, but others have not been so lucky.

Islip Town Officials Ask Residents To Cooperate During Storm Cleanup

Cuomo promised more equipment is on the way to help dig Suffolk County out.

'There will literally be about 500 pieces of equipment that are coming -- snow plows, dump trucks, front end loaders. There are 100 National Guard who are on their way here," Cuomo said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority slowly began to restore Long Island Rail Road service throughout the day Tuesday.

By Tuesday evening, service had been restored and is operating on a weekend schedule for the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Oyster Bay and Ronkonkoma branches.

"You have equipment that you have to get out of the yards, you have employees that have to get to locations to get to the equipment so there's a lot involved, a lot of logistics involved and it's not just a matter of turning on a switch," LIRR spokesperson Sal Arena said.

Hourly service is operating on the Port Washington Branch, along with hourly service between Penn Station and Hicksville.

The MTA said service remains suspended on the West Hempstead Branch, east of Hicksville on the Port Jefferson Branch, east of Babylon on the Montauk Branch, and between Greenport and Ronkonkoma.

The LIRR is expected to run normal weekday service Wednesday on the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Oyster Bay, Port Washington, Huntington/Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and West Hempstead branches.

Nassau County Starts Digging Out After Winter Storm

Normal weekday service will also be provided between Speonk and Babylon.

The LIRR said there will be no morning rush hour service between Montauk and Speonk or between Greenport and Ronkonkoma, where the snowdrifts are highest.

LIRR personnel will continue their snow fighting efforts through the night, the MTA said.

Suffolk County Transit bus service was suspended at 6 p.m. Monday and is not expected to return until Wednesday.

With a mess that could last for days, some residents were already getting ready for Wednesday morning.

"I'll warm up my car and drive extra slow. Give myself an extra half hour to an hour," Alexandra Arp told CBS2's Weijia Jiang.

LIRR riders were also planning an early start, as snow on the tracks could mean delays.

"I think it's going to be really crowded. It's going to take a long time in the morning, and it's bitter cold out," Kathleen Flannelly said.

For one ambulance technician answering calls during the storm meant helping a stranded father deliver a baby boy on Northern Boulevard.

"I instructed him to take his jacket off, clean the child as best he could, and keep the child warm, and turn the heat up in the car so the child didn't get too cold," Larry Loiselle said.

Predictions for widespread power outages failed to materialize across Long Island.

PSEG-Long Island said the storm had little impact on its electric system. The utility brought in extra linemen to deal with potential power outages, and since the storm began, the utility restored power to more than 7,000 customers.

Spokesperson Jeff Weir said PSEG-LI has prepared for storms like this.

"Over the course of the last year we've done a lot of tree trim work, we've done a lot of system maintenance and upgrades and that work that's gone in has allowed the system to be a lot more resilient and allowed it to hold up in the way that it has even with the high winds and the snow," Weir told 1010 WINS.

(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.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.