“You had people assisting those who couldn’t assist themselves. I think that was a show of community strength.”
Norma Gonsalves, Presiding officer, County Legislature
It’s been a cold week in East Meadow, to put it way more mildly than the temperatures. The inclement weather began with snow last Thursday night, and residents awoke the next morning to several inches of the white stuff. The snow began tapering off around noon the following day, leaving behind icy roads and gusting wind. And there was no calm after this storm, as an arctic blast sent temperatures plummeting to the single digits across Long Island.
East Meadow Fire Chief Walter Griffin said the department did not receive calls about any major emergencies during the near-blizzard. Department volunteers, he said, were on standby the entire night but, to his surprise, the calls never came. “It seemed like everybody heeded the warnings from the news channels and stayed home,” Griffin said. “We slept through the night. We didn’t hit the road until [Friday] morning.”
The busiest time, he said, was Saturday morning, when freezing rain turned the snow into ice. “People were coming out of their houses, falling in their driveways,” Griffin said. “We must have taken five people to the hospital within the hour.”
Shelley Lotenberg, the director of public affairs at the Nassau University Medical Center, said the hospital saw a 30 to 40 percent increase in volume last Sunday. “It seems that as people ventured out, they didn’t realize the extent of the icy conditions and were injured on sidewalks and streets.”
Griffin added that in future storms, local residents can help the department by clearing snow off fire hydrants, which are often buried by snow plows. “It makes it very hard for us to see it,” Griffin said.
PSEG did well
Another cause for concern leading up to last weekend’s storm was how Long Island’s new electrical utility, PSEG Long Island — a subsidiary of the Public Service Electric and Gas Company — would handle its first major test since replacing the Long Island Power Authority on Jan 1. Historically, LIPA’s slow storm response in East Meadow and Salisbury has been a source of frustration for residents.