Oceanside, I.P. see less snow than expected

Roads still wet and slippery, residents say


Though the storm did not hit residents in Oceanside and Island Park as heavily as originally expected, county and town officials continued to urge people to stay home Tuesday when a messy nor'easter swept across the South Shore early in the morning, bringing with it a mix of snow, sleet and rain.

Road conditions are slippery and wet in Oceanside and Island Park, according to residents.

"It's miserable outside," Oceanside resident Bob Transom said. "It's been unrelenting with the rain and sleet and the wind is very high."

He said he was looking out to see if the sleet freezes overnight, and added it would be a mess if it does. "Everyone made the right call," he noted about precautions taken ahead of the storm. "If the storm band had been a little to the east, we would have two feet on the ground."

Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty said at 11 a.m. on Tuesday that the village had about three to six inches of snow. The Island Park Department of Public Works began working at 4:30 a.m., he added, and though the roads were all cleared, they are still slushy and wet.

He said he spoke with Dr. Rosmarie Bovino, superintendent of the Island Park School District, who was concerned about Wednesday morning’s conditions near Francis Hegarty Elementary School and Lincoln Orens Middle School. McGinty assured her that the village’s fire department and department of public works would help students and teachers access the schools safely, if the district chooses to reopen them on Wednesday.

The area around Hegarty specifically has historically seen much flooding, McGinty said. That is why, he added, phase one of a series of hazard mitigation projects ¬— to be paid for by $40 million in grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services — will address design improvements of the drains on Radcliffe Road in conjunction with tidal flex valve replacement.

Flooding occurred on California Place, along California Canal in Barnum Island.

No stranded vehicles or other major incidents were reported to the Island Park Fire Department, McGinty said.

“Everybody’s vigilant, we’re all watchful, and our DPW, village staff and fire department…” he paused. “Holy smokes. We are blessed with their efforts.”

Village Hall is open today, McGinty said, and can be reached at (516) 431-0600.

Island Park resident Michael Hoffman, who shared his phone number on Facebook for residents in need of snow removal, said at 11:30 a.m. that he hadn’t received any calls.

“The storm really isn’t that bad,” Hoffman said. “…We had a little bit of snow, but the rain made it all wet and heavy, and there’s really not much out here. I don’t think anybody’s going to get that many calls today.”

As of 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oceanside Fire Department spokesman Ed Scharfberg reported that firefighters had responded to one downed power line on Morrow Road shortly after 10 a.m.

As of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, there were no power outages in Oceanside. There were two outages in Island Park - one on Pettit Place and another on Irving Walk - each affecting less than five homes, according to PSEG Long Island's website. Power crews were on site, power utility reports said.

The Long Island Rail Road warned that it might be forced to suspend service if conditions worsened. Special trains were spraying de-icer on the third rail, which energizes the trains. On its Twitter feed, the LIRR was reporting 15- to 20-minute delays on various branches in the early morning. Check the LIRR website for updates.

Thousands of flights at the region's airports were also delayed.

Government officials, including Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino, said they were concerned that lower-than-predicted snow totals might give people a false sense of security that roads are drivable. They aren't, Santino said, so people should stay put as road crews clear streets and apply salt to de-ice them.

As of 7 a.m. on Tuesday, relatively little snow had fallen, but sleet was coming down hard. That wintry mix was expected to turn to all snow later in the morning, when temperatures were predicted to drop.

National Weather Service forecasters had predicted 12 to 18 inches of snow and high winds for Nassau County. On Tuesday, the prognosticators were calling for six to 12 inches of snow, and they said that total was subject to change. It might be lower if more rain were to fall.

It also might be lower in certain parts of the South Shore. The section from Massapequa to Freeport could see three to six inches, according to predictions.

On Monday, Santino went to Point Lookout to urge residents to prepare for the storm, saying they could expect heavy winds and coastal flooding, particularly in low-lying areas. That part of the prediction did not change on Tuesday.

“This is going to be a very involved snowstorm," the supervisor noted on Monday. "This is going to be a treacherous commute tomorrow morning. We will be working all day ... to clear our streets, but it is likely that the evening commute isn’t going to be any better than the morning commute.”

A coastal flood warning remained in effect through 2 p.m. Tuesday, and moderate coastal flooding was expected during periods of high tide into Tuesday afternoon.

“I don’t think we’re looking at a situation where people have to evacuate,” Santino said. “If you have a car in a low-lying area, try to find a friend or a neighbor who lives up somewhere on higher ground and get the car there. If you have a storm drain, shovel it while it snows to make sure that the water drains appropriately.”

He added that the town had 50,000 tons of rock salt on hand and that crews were out in force since Sunday preparing roads throughout the town with snow-melting brine, and that more than 400 workers were ready to respond with about 300 pieces of equipment.

“Our crews will be out there plowing … to clear the over 1,200 miles of roadway that are in the Town of Hempstead … to make them possible as soon as we possibly can,” he said. “Our Conservation and Waterways crews will be monitoring the coastal erosion.”

Santino advised residents with health conditions to avoid shoveling snow and call 911 in an emergency.

“PSEG Long Island takes storms of this forecasted magnitude seriously, and we proactively prepare and position our restoration workforce so our crews can begin work as soon as the conditions are safe,” said John O’Connell, PSEG-LI's vice president of transmission and distribution. “In addition to scheduling additional PSEG Long Island personnel and contractors to respond to outages, we have arranged for utility crews from other states to provide assistance in restoring customer outages that may result from the storm.”

PSEG-LI offered this advice to homeowners:

* Save PSEG Long Island’s 24-hour Electric Service number: (800) 490-0075.

* Follow PSEG Long Island on Facebook and Twitter for updates before, during and after the storm. Remember, though, that outages cannot be reported through Facebook.

* Downed wires should always be considered live. Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything it might be in contact with. If a wire falls on or near your car, stay inside the car, call 911 and do not get out until PSEG Long Island de-energizes the line. If you must get out of the vehicle because it is on fire, jump as far as possible away from the vehicle, with both feet landing on the ground at the same time, and hop or shuffle away.

* Make sure everyone in the family is prepared and knows what to do if there is an emergency. Visit psegliny.com/page.cfm/Home/Safety to learn about safety tips from Sesame Street and YouTube videos.

More as this story develops.