Brookhaven Town was hit by a nor’easter earlier this month, leaving a foot of snow in its wake.
There have been two more snowfalls since then, including one last week.
That winter storm dropped between 2 and 3 inches of snow per hour on parts of Long Island. Heavy snow and strong wind gusts continued into the next day, causing downed trees, branches and wires. Suffolk County, Brookhaven Town and Patchogue and Bellport village officials all issued a state of emergency, and residents were urged to stay off the roads unless there was an emergency or if travel was essential.
Even still, a number of residents wrote to the Long Island Advance, expressing frustrations with the snow removal, with some stating that as essential workers, they were unable to leave their residences in time for work, noting that their streets were impassable. Residents, including those in the Medford Pines, some areas of East Patchogue and the Canaan Lake area Phyllis Drive in North Patchogue, were among the complainants.
Kenneth Ruland said a neighbor ended up plowing his block off Southaven Avenue in Medford since the town never came. Another Patchogue resident, Patricia Ruocco, said she couldn’t get to work and didn’t see a plow for two days. In response, superintendent of highways Dan Losquadro said the storm complaints stemmed from the size and scope of the storm.
“It ended at 3 a.m.,” he said, noting that people were trying to get to work just hours after plows were sent out. “By the next morning, every road had been plowed, and widened a day or two later. Our goal in every storm is to have every road passable within 24 hours of the storm ending, and we did meet that goal.”
Last week’s storm, he added, was less of a concern as was the storm prior. The town has about 250 pieces of town-owned equipment and contracts out an additional 250 to 350 pieces; however, he said, sometimes only about 90 or so actually show up for the job.
COVID-19, he added, has also played a role across Suffolk County, with a limited number of hired vendors available. Losquadro looks for a mix of heavy equipment and pickup trucks.
“I am also speculating that we didn’t have snow the past two years [and] insurance rates have gone up,” he said, also commenting that he is aggressively pursuing vendors.
Also, in an effort to be more attractive to potential hires, Losquadro said he has worked to speed the pay process up so that contractors are paid directly after each storm. The Town of Brookhaven has a total of 3,700 lane miles of road to maintain. Plows are directed to certain geographic areas, monitored and tracked.
“The public has to understand that these are men and women working long hours,” he added. “It takes time.”