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Snowstorm Slams Long Island; Officials Monitor Road Conditions

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A powerful snowstorm is keeping Long Island officials on their toes and residents indoors.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for all of Long Island until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for Suffolk, Nassau, Richmond, Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties.

"This winter storm will bring a one-two punch of snow and extreme cold. I urge all those in the affected regions to exercise caution, and avoid travel if possible," Governor Cuomo said. "State resources are deployed to clear snow and help those impacted by the storm, but above all it is important that New Yorkers remain safe both during and after the storm."

Steve Bellone Says Suffolk County Ready To Tackle Blizzard-Like Conditions

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said before the storm that the county was ready to tackle the blizzard-like conditions.

More than 300 plow trucks are out on the roads in Suffolk County and road crews also have more than 16,000 tons of salt and sand to spread on the streets to keep them passable.

Bellone said the county will likely be overbudget for snow removal after this storm.

Town Of Hempstead Declares Snow Emergency

"The bottom line is we have to remove the snow, we have to take care of it. Budget is put aside when it comes to public safety," said Bellone.

Once the storm hit, snow-covered roads caused long backups as many Long Islanders left work early in an attempt to avoid driving in hazardous conditions, CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

The Long Island Expressway was slow-moving from about noon Tuesday well through the end of rush hour due to near whiteout conditions, Gusoff reported.

One motorist said he had to pull off to the side of the road after his windshield wipers froze over, hindering his view of the road.

Accidents and spinouts were also frequent.

"As you can see, I just rear-ended a lady by accident. I even hit the emergency brake," said Mike Humpf of West Babylon. "Brutal."

State officials decided to keep the roads open, unlike the New Year's storm when a travel ban was issued for the Long Island Expressway.

But drivers said they paid the price.

"Horrendous," a woman said. "That's the best way to describe it – horrendous."

The New York State Department of Transportation also called in crews Monday to pre-treat the state roads on Long Island with brine – a saltwater mixture that creates a barrier between the road surface and snow. They also called in  extra snow and ice crews and extra plows from upstate to help tackle Long Island roads.

The Town of Hempstead was one of the first on Long Island to declare a snow emergency Tuesday.

"That urges our residents to remove the cars from their streets, to do as little traveling as they can," Town Supervisor Kate Murray told Rivera. "It's only going to get worse through the evening, so we'll continue to do our salting and then snow plowing operations right through the night but the bottom line is we're asking everybody to stay off the roads to the extent possible."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced reduced train service as of 8 p.m. Tuesday for the Long Island Railroad. The LIRR said it will operate on a weekend schedule for Wednesday.

LIRR station waiting rooms will remain open around-the-clock through Friday afternoon to accommodate customers waiting for trains during cold and inclement weather.

As many battled the roadways in an attempt to get home before the worst of the storm, others headed out to their local grocery stores to stock up on the essentials before hunkering down for the night, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

"When it snows on Long Island - to this magnitude - it is chaotic and insane," shopper Cori Goldfarb said.

"We're looking forward to a cozy night. We're going cook and keep warm and enjoy each other's company," another shopper told McLogan.

Many schools let out early Tuesday in anticipation of the storm, CBS 2's Gusoff reported.

PSEG Long Island, which took over responsibility for the area's electric power on Jan. 1,  said it took numerous steps to prepare for any possible power outages, including:

  • Performing system checks on critical transmission and distribution equipment
  • Arranging for contractors, including tree crews, to assist the utility's own skilled workforce
  • Performing logistics checks; ensuring availability of critical materials, fuel and other supplies
  • Coordinating with county and municipal emergency management personnel to inform them of the preparation work, what to expect and how the utility will respond

Nassau County has 19 warming center locations that are available Tuesday.

Residents are encouraged to contact these facilities for hours of operation:

Glen Cove Senior Center - 130 Glen Street, Glen Cove (Transport available for City residents).  Tel: 516-759-9610

Long Beach Public Library - 111 W. Park Ave, Long Beach. Tel: 516-431-7200

Long Beach SCSC - Temple Beth-El, 570 West Walnut Street, Long Beach. Tel: 516-432-5555

Village of Massapequa Park – Court Room – 151 Front Street, Massapequa Park. Tel: 516-798-0244

TOB Ice Skating Center at Bethpage – 1001 Stewart Ave, Bethpage. Tel: 516-433-7465

Massapequa Park SCSC - Our Lady of Lourdes School, 379 Linden Street, Massapequa Park. Tel: 516-797-5357

Life Enrichment Center @ Oyster Bay SCSC - 45 East Main Street, Oyster Bay. Tel: 516-922-1770

5 Towns Community Center – 270 Lawrence Ave, Lawrence. Tel: 516-239-6244

Salvation Army (Freeport) – 66 Church Street, Freeport. Tel: 516-378-4557

Bethel A.M.E. Church Roosevelt - 20 N. Main Street, Freeport. Tel: 516-377-4469

Franklin Square SCSC - Wesley United Methodist Church, 619 Fenworth Boulevard, Franklin Square. Tel: 516-481-3322

Hempstead SCSC - United Methodist Church, 40 Washington Ave., Hempstead. Tel: 516-565-1568

Hispanic Brotherhood Senior Program, 59 Clinton Ave, Rockville Centre. Tel: 516-766-6610

North Merrick SCSC - Brookside School, 1260 Meadowbrook Rd., North Merrick. Tel: 516-71-8675

Oceanside SCSC - St. Anthony's Catholic School - 80 Anchor Avenue, Oceanside. Tel: 516-764-9792

Great Neck SCSC - 80 Grace Avenue, Great Neck. Tel: 516-487-0025

Herricks SCSC - Herricks Community Center, Herricks Road, New Hyde Park. Tel: 516-248-3135

Port Washington SCSC - St. Stephen's Church, 9 Carlton Ave., Port Washington. Tel: 516-944-9654

Westbury Senior Center - 360 Post Avenue, Westbury. Tel: 516-334-5886

The county's non-emergency hotline has also been activated. Residents with non-life threatening emergencies should dial 1-888-684-4274 for assistance.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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.)

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