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Blizzard 2013

Winter storm

 

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The Town of Brookhaven, in Suffolk County, is larger than nine New York counties, with nearly a half million people living in the 59 communities that make up the town.

Thousands of Brookhaven’s residents are angry, after the town’s supervisor, Ed Romaine, left on a Caribbean vacation last Thursday just before the blizzard blew in and many residents got snowed in their homes and stuck in their cars for days.

Brookhaven snow

The Town of Brookhaven was crippled by the blizzard.

Romaine’s first public appearance since the debacle was, on the surface, about as poorly managed as the snowstorm response.

“I’m sorry the storm happened,” Romaine said at a noon news conference, “and I’m particularly sorry that I wasn’t here when it occurred.”

Romaine had been in Jamaica through the worst of the blizzard’s effects:  in various locations throughout the town, dozens of cars stranded in snowdrifts, and streets piled so high with unplowed snow that ambulances could not respond to medical emergencies.

Ed Romaine

“I’m sorry the storm happened,” Ed Romaine said, “and I’m particularly sorry that I wasn’t here when it occurred.”

He blamed the lack of response on Acting Highways Superintendent Michael Murphy, who resigned Wednesday amid criticism of his role in the blizzard response, or lack thereof.  Murphy had called in sick and missed four days of work during the snow emergency.

For his part, Supervisor Ed Romaine said that he directed that Murphy be dismissed while Romaine was on his Jamaican vacation.  Romaine said that he had been “in constant contact” with his staff during his seven days away.

After making a ten minute statement at the noon event which he had called a press conference, Romaine walked out, after his staff had announced at the beginning of the event that Romaine would do one-on-one interviews later.

Brookhaven blizzard

“Why didn’t [the plows ] come out sooner” asked resident Tom Lomanaco. “They didn’t come out until Saturday” after the snow.

That turned out to be much later. It ended up being 2 1/2 hours before the town supervisor was able to meet with PIX11 News to respond in person to complaints from drivers and residents like those Tom Lomanaco said to PIX11 News.

“Why didn’t [the plows ] come out sooner?” he asked.  “They didn’t come out until Saturday” after the snow — all 33 inches of it — had fallen.

“What I want to tell them,” Romaine said in his one-on-one interview, “is I’m sorry this storm turned out to be such a disaster for Brookhaven.”

His initial comment in the interview was essentially a repeat of what he had said at the news conference, so PIX11 went ahead with questions, including  why did he remain in the Caribbean on vacation after the snow emergency brought his town to a standstill?

“Come back, you give up five or six hours,” he said, adding that in the first couple of days after the blizzard began, Kennedy Airport was backed up with air traffic.  When asked if he could have flown into an airport in another city and commuted back to Brookhaven, Romaine grimaced and responded, “I don’t know, with the storm it might have been a bit difficult.”

Romaine’s constituents learned that all too well in his absence.  When asked if those constituents might take out their frustration on him when he’s up for re-election in November, the supervisor was prompt in his response.

“I’m not concerned.  When an elected official focuses on whether or not he gets re-elected, he does a disservice to himself and his constituents.  You should be concentrating on your job each and every day.”

Asked if he had it all to do over again, Romaine said that he’d have handled it much differently by traveling out of town in the first place.

“Absolutely not,” he told PIX News.  I would not go away.”

It seems like a lesson learned, but it could be too late.  A Facebook page calling for his recall has gotten more than 5,000 views and nearly 600 likes.

A brewing scandal that left one Long Island community in shambles during last weekend’s storm leads to a resignation. Dan Mannarino has more in this report.

LAKE RONKONKOMA (PIX11) –  “I think somebody finally woke up.”

This is how Terry Puccio described the sight of plows on her street.

Puccio has lived along Richard Place for 23 years.  She is not a politician, but the taxpayer had no issues in taking a shot at one: “I wish I was in Jamaica when the snow storm came.”

She is referring to recently elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.  After being on the job for only a few months, Romaine ditched the blizzard preps last week and instead packed his trunks along with the cocoa butter for a sunny vacation in Jamaica.

“Very hard to manage from Jamaica,” Connie Kepert told PIX11 News during an interview in her office Wednesday afternoon.

 Snow Brookhaven

This fire hydrant on Richard Place in Brookhaven has still not been cleared of snow, posing an emergency nightmare.

Kepert, who has been on the town council for six years and sits across the aisle from Romaine, talked of  the sights of frozen roads and other emergency issues that have crippled the area.

They can best be described, she said, as “a terrible, terrible failure on the part of the town, in particular the highway department.”

Meanwhile, Highway Department Superintendent Michael Murphy, who called out sick during the storm and its aftermath, is now out of a job,

“He is resigning today as acting highway superintendent.”

Town Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico went before the cameras to confirm the departure as well as defend his boss and close friend, Romaine: “He was in Jamaica.”

PIX 11News showed Panico an image of a fire hydrant that was encased in snow in front of Tina Farrow’s house on Richard Place. The image clearly showed how hard it would be for firefighters if they had to battle a fire.

Panico’s response?  “There is a hydrant that is partially uncovered to the bottom of the valve.”

He quickly realized the dangers and said, “If you let them know where it is, we’ll send it over to highway and we’ll get that cleared.”

PIX 11 News did let him know the location.

We contacted Ferro Wednesday evening to see if Panico stayed true to his word.  According to her, he did not.  The snow was still there.

And there is more snow on the horizon.

CONNECTICUT (PIX11) - Talk about storming onto the scene. One baby in Connecticut just couldn’t wait.

Donna Ambrosia went into labor in the middle of Friday night’s blizzard.

Her husband called 911, not knowing what to expect in white out conditions.

To their surprise, an ambulance and a snowplow pulled into their driveway.

They had to drive around a jack-knifed tractor trailer and abandoned cars to get to the hospital.

They sort of made it.

Ambrosia gave birth in the hospital’s parking lot. The family says now that it’s over, it’s earned little Elizabeth a nickname – ‘Stick.’

Mom and baby are doing just fine.

A  14-year-old Boston boy died of carbon monoxide during the blizzard.

Cops say he was helping his father shovel out their snowed-in car on Nazing Street Saturday morning when he decided to hop in to stay warm.

Snow covered the exhaust pipe, filling the car with fumes.

While neighbors tried to revive the boy… His father suddenly went into respiratory arrest.

Both were rushed to the hospital. The child was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Long Island Expressway reopened Monday morning after snow drifts left from Friday’s blizzard were cleared.

Eastbound exits 57 through 73 were closed to removed the massive snow drifts that trapped hundreds of cars on Friday.

Many drivers were trapped for hours–some even over night, after the snow accumulated at rapid rates.

Mike Gilliam reports.

The blizzard of 2013 dealt a cruel blow to a popular bowling alley on Long Island.

The center portion of the roof of AMF Smithtown Lanes collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow.

Thankfully, no one was inside the building when the roof gave way on Saturday afternoon.  It was closed because of the storm.

Bowlers who stopped by were shocked and saddened to see the destruction of the place where they’ve enjoyed so many good times.

“When I was younger, I used to have birthday parties here,” recalled Kirsten Bond of St. James.  “It’s just a shame something like this happened.”

The blizzard of 2013 dealt a cruel blow to a popular bowling alley on Long Island.
 
The center portion of the roof of AMF Smithtown Lanes collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow.
Thankfully, no one was inside the building when the roof gave way on Saturday afternoon.  It was closed because of the storm. 
 
Bowlers who stopped by were shocked and saddened to see the destruction of the place where they’ve enjoyed so many good times.
 
“When I was younger, I used to have birthday parties here,” recalled Kirsten Bond of St. James.  “It’s just a shame something like this happened.”

Chelsea residents took to the High Line on Sunday to enjoy the fresh snowfall.

Friends of the high line held a “sculpt-off” today on top of Manhattan’s famous elevated walkway.

The rules were simple: bring your own tools and don’t mess with the plants.

Some went old-school with your basic carrot-nose snowman. Others went for a finely sculpted statue of liberty.

The winners made a high-line snow version of the Titanic.

LIEStranded

A Mt. Sinai mom stranded in deep snow on the Long Island Expressway wrote what she thought would be her last words to her children and husband.

41-year-old Priscilla Arena said she wasn’t able to leave early on Friday from her job as a sales account manager at an optical supply business in Ronkonkoma, according to the Associated Press.  Arena left work at 4 p.m., she said, but by that point intense wind and quickly-mounting snow left her SUV trapped on the LIE in Farmingville.

Stranded in her vehicle with the temperature below freezing, Arena took out a piece of paper to write to her family, just in case:

“She told her 9 1/2-year-old daughter, Sophia, she was “picture-perfect beautiful.” And she advised her 5 ½-year-old son, John: “Remember all the things that mommy taught you. Never say you hate someone you love. Take pride in the things you do, especially your family. … Don’t get angry at the small things; it’s a waste of precious time and energy. Realize that all people are different, but most people are good.”

Arena added, “My love will never die — remember, always.”

More than 30 inches of snow accumulated around stranded drivers – some of whom were eventually rescued and treated for the early stages of hypothermia.

An Army canvas truck eventually came to Arena’s rescue after roughly 12 hours.

Over 42 cars got stuck on highway 347 in Suffolk County after the snow just came down too fast for them to get home during the evening commute.

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