Long Beach digs out after the storm


Long Beach residents are digging out after a powerful winter storm blew through the greater metropolitan area on Thursday.

Parts of the barrier island saw up to 14 inches of snow, according to local news sources, and residents said they saw drifts up to five feet tall. The wind gusted up to 40 mph and caused issues like sparking wires, Fire Chief Joe Miller said on Thursday.

The Long Beach Fire Department received a total of 32 emergency calls as of Friday morning, Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins said, 26 of which occurred during the emergency snow standby period between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday.

Kemins said firefighters responded to a handful of fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, but there were no serious injuries or incidents.

“There was nothing crazy,” Kemins said. “We had a lot of wind, but I think we did better than I expected with the amount of calls we had.”

PSEG reported less than five power outages in the Long Beach area on Friday, and about 40 on Thursday. A water main broke on Thursday in the West End near Virginia Avenue, fire officials said, in addition to a burst pipe at the former Hebrew Academy of Long Beach property, and a broken sprinkler pipe at Minnesota’s.

Kemins said he expects to see more burst pipes and leaks early next week when temperatures rise to about 35 to 40 degrees.

Additionally, West End neighbors contacted the fire department with concerns about a Georgia Ave. home that was “blowing in the wind,” Kemins said. The Building Department inspected the building and determined that it presented no imminent danger to surrounding homes.

“Like any rigid object — like a traffic light — it’s designed to move a little in the wind so it doesn’t snap and break,” Kemins explained. “But we’d rather have people call and be safe than sorry.”

City officials asked residents on Friday to refrain from shoveling snow into the streets to avoid re-obstructing driveways when city crews come by with snow plows.

“We ask everybody to chip in and clear a hydrant, making a three-foot opening,” Kemins said. “Check on your elderly neighbors and help them — that’s what the community is all about.”

West End resident Anita Daly said she and her husband shoveled for two hours on Thursday after they worked from home. She added that she heard many residents talking on social media about frozen pipes and toilets in their homes.

“The wind was whipping around,” Daly said. “There were lots of drifts and people were helping each other dig out cars and driveways.”